Web Therapy needed due to Internet-related mental health woes

Dave Masko's picture

The next episode from season 2 of “Web Therapy” features Lisa Kudrow pictured on a Skype screen talking to an old college friend who is her former “Friends” mate, David Schwimmer.

Arguments may be made about the cause and effect of the hit Showtime TV series “Web Therapy,” but there’s now no doubt that how people watch television is changing; thanks in part to Lisa Kudrow who is the creator, star and executive producer of this show that features some people’s counter existence on the Web that seems more interesting than reality. For instance, it’s now possible to get that same digital age buzz from watching Kudrow – playing Fiona Wallice, a therapist who has conceived of a new form of therapy called “web therapy” – as she chats with a former college buddy played by her real-life friend David Schwimmer. In turn, it’s real life mirroring TV fiction with Schwimmer still funny like he was in his old Ross Geller role on “Friends,” with Web Therapy requiring him to make it up as he goes along in this situation comedy formatted show that requires guest stars to adopt the improvisational genre.

Tune to Showtime on Monday, Aug. 20, to view this “Friends reunion” with Kudrow and Schwimmer airing at 11 p.m. ET/PT, or tune to “Web Therapy’s” usual Tuesday airing time at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT to also watch this episode 8 of the show’s second season called “Man-Cave Man. Also, Showtime is offering this episode “on demand” between Aug. 21 and Sept. 25 (check local listings).

Conan O’Brien also appears in this “Man-Cave Man” episode as a character named Patrick Fitzpatrick who – in real life – is a master at this improvisational genre honed by Kudrow and her creative team – making this Friends reunion episode an extra treat with Fiona mixing it up with Conan who is always funny as this man in needed of web therapy after his cracks about malaise that can be traced to real-life people’s addiction to the Net and how it’s changed their brain’s attention, control and function.

Also, for newbies to “Web Therapy,” Showtime has an “adult language, adult content” advisory listed for this series.

Web Therapy’s “adult content” linked to wired-up people

While David Schwimmer now joins fellow “Friends” cast member Matt LeBlanc (who appeared previously on Web Therapy) when he teams-up with Kudrow on this next episode of the program – where Schwimmer is pictured in a very messy office – there is good reason why both guest stars and fans are drawn into the world of “Web Therapy,” explains Kudrow during recent TV interview programs to hype her show.

Kudrow simply thinks there’s “lots of wired-up people.” After all, in Fiona’s estimation as a web therapist, the traditional "50 minute hour" version of therapy gives people too much leeway to talk about irrelevant things. By dramatically shortening session time, she hopes to get results more quickly.

Of course, Kudrow is being clever using the term “wired-up” as having two meanings today in this digital age.

For instance, Newsweek’s editor in chief Tina Brown writes in a recent edition of the magazine how “digital gadgets are changing our brains.” Brown goes on to state how “historians of the future may note that around the time of the Facebook IPO a critical juncture was reached in the relationship between technology and the human race. No longer were the wired-up people on planet Earth controlling the devices that ingenious, wizard like engineers invented to serve and connect them. Instead, the ultra-smart new devices were controlling and enslaving them – us – and doing so at frightening, ever-accelerating speed.

What happened on the last episode of Web Therapy?

Such was the case with the recent episode 7 of the “Web Therapy” series – that aired this past Tuesday – when Jerome introduces Fiona to the surrogate (Selma Blair) who is carrying his triplets, which Fiona learns will be very expensive.

Also, the issue of spending too much time online was raised again during this episode but - as always - the show is played for comedy to make a point.

However, there's also truth and "drama" in this so-called comedy show that often comes off as serious.

For example, while Fiona discovers the “true extent of Kip’s relationship with his campaign manager, Ben,” this recent episode also explores Tina Brown’s claim that “you know it’s true anecdotally from the signs all around us – the glazed longing that creeps into eyes as a phone vibrates from a pocket or bag, the instantly lowered heads in an elevator as soon as the doors close and messages are scanned, the teenager asleep with a flowing phone on the pillow, the frantic effort on the plane to maintain surreptitious connection for the last few minutes after the voice has told us to turn off all handheld devices, as featured on a previous “Web Therapy.”

People having “affairs” with their tech stuff

Just as Fiona has her hands full with clients (former “Friends” and other friends guest starring on her Web Therapy TV show) who are having mental health problems associated with how much Internet penetration that manage each and every day, so too does Tina Brown explain what’s happening on both a show like Web Therapy and real life.

For instance, Brown writes in the “periscope” section of Newsweek – where she serves as editor-in-chief of both the magazine and “The Daily Beast” – how millions of Americans today really need “web therapy” to not entertain them, but to get off the cool-aid that is the Internet.

And, in a sort of real-life mirroring fiction, Brown does a pretty convincing Fiona as she explains why so many of Fiona’s “Web Therapy” clients are having problems with their lives when they spend more time online than with real people.

Brown even sounds like Fiona in front of her Skype screen when writing how too much time in the digital realm “is like having an every-present, adulterous, inexhaustibly demanding affair (as is often the case on the Web Therapy TV show), a secret counter existence that no matter how fast we run always outpaces reality.”

Even Fiona advised on a previous Web Therapy episode that people don’t realize they are seeking something online that only offers “short-term rewards,” because web fans know that every ping on their computer or smartphone could – just maybe – mean that someone out there loves them; or that they are in for some sort of strange “virtual reward” – that “squirt of dopamine for answering the bell,” adds Internet addiction experts.

Still, this Web Therapy show is about wacky people with problems, right. They are online all the time because “you like it, right,” asks Fiona when playing with her old “Friends” friend David on the next episode of the show.

Should Jason Russell be in Web Therapy?

Tina Brown writes in both Newsweek and The Daily Beast that the viral reaction to the Internet post “when Jason Russell raced out of his house in San Diego stark naked, ranting and raving until he could be hospitalized and unplugged,” was overwhelming for all people who are “wired” today and even seek out web therapy for too much time spent on the web.

In fact, Brown stated that Jason Russell “qualified for a diagnosis of ‘reactive psychosis,’ for victims whose brains literally cannot take the web anymore.”

Thus, it’s no surprise that Kudrow is also exploring this “reactive psychosis” issue during each and every Web Therapy episode where friends such as David Schwimmer sort of plays a version Ross Geller on the next episode of the program with the genre of being “improvisational” while his friend Fiona (played this time by Phoebe Buffay, as an eccentric) attempts to sort out this sweet man of good humor, again Schwimmer playing Ross Geller, as he and Fiona attempt web therapy on the Showtime TV show Web Therapy. It’s just fun to watch Phoebe and Ross together again.

Image source of the “Friends” cast in first season. Front: Cox, Aniston. Back: LeBlanc, Kudrow, Schwimmer, Perry. In turn, Lisa Kudrow’s popular Showtime TV show “Web Therapy” is attempting to bring the Friends cast back together; albeit in separate, individual appearances as they seek treatment from Kudrow. Photo courtesy Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friends

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