Uzo Aduba said her job as a therapist on HBO’s In Treatment was difficult because she had to memorise long passages of dialogue and offer an engaged performance while listening to her co-stars deliver lengthy monologues.
“This is easily one of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had in my life,” the Emmy-winning actress said in a Television Critics Association Zoom. “It is also one of the most satisfying, fulfilling experiences.”
In Treatment originally ran three seasons from 2008 to 2010 and followed Gabriel Byrne as therapist Dr. Paul Weston. The series aired five nights a week, with each night showing a different patient’s weekly session, including Weston’s appointment with his own therapist (Dianne Wiest).
For Season 4, Aduba takes over the lead as Dr. Brooke Taylor, who conducts sessions with her patients over Zoom during the COVID-19 pandemic. The show premieres Sunday, and HBO will air two episodes each Sunday and Monday night.
Brooke’s patients include characters played by actors Anthony Ramos, John Benjamin Hickey and Quintessa Swindell. Aduba, who has won Emmys for her roles in Orange Is the New Black and Mrs. America, said her co-stars match her in terms of preparation with the material, but each character has a different dynamic with Brooke.
Rodrigo Garcia adapted the original run of In Treatment from the Israeli series Be’Tipul. Co-showrunners Jennifer Schuur and Josh Allen developed the new season.
Schuur said that each episode was filmed in two days, so both Aduba and her co-star had the entire script memorized. Aduba said spending two days on one scene still afforded her more time with her scene partners than other series, which had multiple scenes in different locations.
“It’s nice to have that all the time,” Aduba said. “It stretches you. It’s making me grow.”
Allen said he wanted the show to feature a Black therapist and diverse roster of patients. Allen said communities of color still have a stigma against therapy.
“It’s part of the reason why Brooke has a pro bono patient,” Allen said. “We’re expanding the idea of who gets access to therapy and under what circumstances, to destigmatize it.”
One difference between Brooke and Byrne’s character, Dr. Paul Weston, is that Brooke shares personal experiences during her sessions. Aduba said the therapy sessions will reveal details of Brooke’s character piece by piece.
“She brings her own self into the room,” Aduba said. “She brings her own experiences and her own story, in part, into the room.”
Aduba said that just observing the way Brooke dresses for sessions with patients speaks to her character.
“Even in this pandemic, as you hear her say in the show, she shows up for her patients,” Aduba said. “Even during quarantine, during lockdown, she shows up dressed, ready to be of service to them.”
Aduba said that Brooke still wants to maintain some professional boundaries. Because of the shift to remote sessions, her character also is coping with letting her patients into her home via Zoom cameras.
“There’s a face that therapists wear when they’re treating, a mask that protects from judgment and any sort of feeling that the patient might interpret from them,” Aduba said. “This is just one of the ways in which she wears and presents her mask.”
Brooke’s patients also address myriad issues the world faces in 2021. Schuur said she wanted the new season to reflect the modern world.
“We talk about toxic masculinity and addiction,” Schuur said. “We have racial justice movements and the Me Too movement happening.”
In Treatment Season 4 premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. EDT on HBO.