The Most Shockingly Irresponsible TV Therapists
Apple TV’s Shrinking continues the proud tradition of shows about therapists who decide their job is way more fun if they, well, suck at it. Most TV therapists end up committing ethical lapses to make their shows more interesting, from the guy who gives advice over the radio based on 20 seconds of information to the lady who continues treating a mobster after he steals and repairs her car — and those are the good ones. At the other end of the spectrum, we have therapists like...
Andrea Bayden, ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’
Dr. Andrea Bayden (Tina Fey) was a fairly sensible therapist when she was sober, even if that didn’t happen terribly often. Still, it doesn’t say much about her therapeutic abilities that most of her breakthroughs with Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) came while she was “Night Andrea” and doing stuff like pressuring Kimmy to break into a stranger’s house or going TMI on the details of her sexual escapades with her doorman. Normally, forcing patients to chaperone you while you get #$%@faced on the town doesn’t produce great results, but in this case, it did help Kimmy figure some things out, making Dr. Bayden the most effective therapist on this list.
Tobias Fünke, ‘Arrested Development’
Despite being the world’s first, uh, analrapist and authoring a hit self-help book, the closest we ever got to seeing Tobias (David Cross) actually providing psychological help was the time he talked a prison inmate into realizing he hated himself, causing the “patient” to jump to his death within seconds. The world probably won’t miss “White Power” Bill, but this kinda confirms that Tobias deserved to have his license taken away even if he hadn’t broken that sleeping man’s sternum while administering unneeded CPR. At least his unique insights into the never-nude condition should provide comfort to dozens of people worldwide. Dozens!
Fiona Wallice, ‘Web Therapy’
In Web Therapy, therapist/disruptor Fiona Wallice (Lisa Kudrow) treats her patients (any actor who ever owed Lisa Kudrow a favor) via three-minute online sessions in order to bypass the other 47 minutes of “self-indulgent blather” and cut straight to the good stuff. Unfortunately, “the good stuff” includes hitting on a married patient (Matt LeBlanc), enabling his obvious gambling addiction and secretly beating him during one of his online poker games. Oh, and she’s recording all of her sessions in order to attract investors to her business, which predictably results in those videos being hacked by the NSA and leaked online. Fortunately for Dr. Wallice’s patients, the show was canceled when Showtime realized Jennifer Aniston apparently doesn’t owe Lisa Kudrow any favors.
Jean Holloway, ‘Gypsy’
Netflix tried to jump into the “show about a dangerously unethical therapist” bandwagon with Gypsy, which was canceled after only one season (but you guessed that as soon as you saw the word “Netflix”). In this one, Dr. Jean Holloway (Naomi Watts) uses a false identity to insert herself into her patients’ lives — and, in at least one case, into her patients’ girlfriends’ pants. It’s also suggested that she might have pushed a former patient into burning down a house. According to TV writers, if your therapist is a Black woman, then you’re in good hands, but if she’s a thin white blonde? Run.
Faith Wolper, ‘Nip/Tuck’
In Ryan Murphy’s hilariously trashy soap opera Nip/Tuck, Dr. Faith Wolper (Brooke Shields) not only has sex with her patient, plastic surgeon Christian Troy (Julian McMahon), right in her office, but she later tries to sabotage his relationship and attempts to convince him that he’s gay for his best friend. The last time she appears in the series is when Christian shatters the illusion of her objectivity by forcefully exposing the “Property of Christian Toy” tattoo she got on her butt almost immediately after her one sexual encounter with him. Stay classy, Ryan Murphy.
Arnold Wayne, ‘Mad Men’
Mad Men’s Dr. Arnold Wayne (Andy Umberger) didn’t say a whole lot while Betty Draper (January Jones) was on his couch, but he was awfully chatty with her husband Don (Jon Hamm) when he’d call him to get a report on her intimate confessions. Their phone calls turned less civil when Don got angry that Betty was still unhappy despite having a therapist who considered her a “child” and a husband who betrayed her trust by snooping in on her sessions (and, you know, screwing like 20 other women). It’s a good thing that society has advanced to the point where women can finally be the terrible therapists themselves and not just their victims. That said, the next one is kind of a trailblazer in that area...
Lucy van Pelt, ‘Peanuts’
If it was accurate, the sign on Lucy’s “psychiatric help” stand would say “psychiatric HARM.” At best, she’ll dispense direct advice, which isn’t what a therapist is supposed to do; she should be guiding Charlie Brown to make better decisions, not make those decisions for him. At worst, she uses her position to mock and denigrate her most faithful client, like in the clip below, which involves a football and— Oh, it’s too cruel to even describe. And then she has the nerve to charge five cents per session, which probably translates to $352,009 adjusted for inflation. A disgrace to her profession.
Hannibal Lecter, ‘Hannibal’
Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) kills and eats some patients, tries to manipulate others into murder for his own amusement and occasionally has regular therapy sessions with a select few just to mix things up. Perhaps what truly makes him a monster is the fact that, unlike everyone else on this list, he has the talent and intelligence to be an excellent therapist but chooses to use his abilities to toy with his patients’ minds. Wait, no. On second thought, it’s definitely the “eating people” thing.
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