On December 7, 2010, the critically acclaimed “In Treatment” concluded a mesmerizing three-season, 106-episode run on HBO. The half-hour psychotherapy drama followed the weekly sessions between Dr. Paul Weston (the Golden Globe-winning and Emmy-nominated Gabriel Byrne) and his patients (an impressive collection of guest actors who rotated seasonally), as well as his own counseling with therapists Dr. Gina Toll (Emmy winner Dianne Wiest) and Dr. Adele Brouse (Amy Ryan).
This month – more than a decade later – HBO will debut a much-anticipated fourth season, this time starring Emmy winner Uzo Aduba as the show’s main therapist. “In Treatment,” which is predominantly confined to a singular location and limited cast (with most episodes featuring two characters engrossed in socially distant conversations), is the perfect pandemic-proof production and easily ranks among our 2021 must-watch TV.
While we don’t have much information about this ambitious reboot, and 100+ episodes is a hefty (though absolutely worthwhile) binge, below you’ll find a definitive ranking of Paul’s original patients to prioritize, prepare, and excite you for the upcoming release.
#1 Sophie (played by Mia Wasikowska) – Season 1
A teenage gymnast and Olympic trial-hopeful, Sophie comes to Paul for his “professional opinion” following a suspect biking accident, but what ensues is one of the most moving portrayals of an adult understanding – and doing right by – a child ever depicted on screen. If you’re only going to watch just one storyline to get a feel for the show, we suggest starting here.
#2 April (played by Alison Pill) – Season 2
April comes to Paul with a secret she’s been unable to share with anyone but a lewd construction worker: she has cancer. As April and Paul work through her deeply-rooted trust issues, her reliance on him grows and finds him pushing the boundaries as her therapist in an effort to prove that not everyone will disappoint her.
#3 Oliver (played by Aaron Grady Shaw, and featuring regular appearances by his parents, played by Sherri Saum and Russell Hornsby) – Season 2
Oliver is brought to Paul by his parents, who have been unable to admit they’re getting a divorce. As evidenced by this top-three consisting entirely of relative youngsters, Paul is again at his finest as he provides a space for the middle schooler to finally feel safe and understood.
#4 Sunil (played by Irrfan Khan) – Season 3
Admittedly, if you’re going to watch just one episode of “In Treatment,” it should be the season 3 premiere, which is Sunil’s introduction. Brought to therapy by his son, Sunil is grieving the loss of his beloved wife and feeling overwhelmingly displaced after his son dragged him to America to fulfill a promise. And if you’re going to watch just two episodes, Sunil’s final episode offers one of the series’ most jaw-dropping reveals.
#5 Walter (played by John Mahoney) – Season 2
A workaholic CEO crippling under the weight of his anxiety, Walter begins therapy at the urging of his wife. The dynamic that unfolds between them is an incredible and unique jockey for power and control that truly elevates their sessions, as well as Walter’s ranking on this list.
#6 Jesse (played by Dane DeHaan) – Season 3
Jesse’s sessions play out amidst a series of major crises – he’s 16, gay, adopted, and eventually, (slight spoiler) contacted by his birth mother. Existing against a parallel storyline between Paul and his own young, misunderstood son, Jesse brings an entirely different energy and level of compelling heartbreak to Paul’s couch.
#7 Laura (played by Melissa George) – Season 1
Laura’s first appearance – which is also the pilot – and startling proclamation set the tone not only for the rest of her sessions but the rest of the series. While she ranks #7, her sessions are important and worth checking out.
#8 Alex (played by Blair Underwood) – Season 1
An arrogant Navy pilot, Alex arrives on Paul’s couch looking for “the best” therapist but spends the bulk of his time pushing back on everything Paul has to say. The sessions provoke a very different side of Paul and provide an unusual opportunity to meet Alex’s entire family – most notably, a recurring appearance by his father, Alex Sr. (played by Glynn Turman, who received an Emmy for his performance).
#9 Jake & Amy (played by Josh Charles and Embeth Davidtz) – Season 1
These sessions are utterly exhausting and reveal an ugly – but honest – side of a crumbling marriage. The rare moments that feature just Jake, however, are pretty breathtaking.
#10 Frances (played by Debra Winger) – Season 3
We so want to love these sessions, because let’s be real, it’s Debra-freakin’-Winger, but with the poignancy and level of character competition surrounding her, it was difficult to invest in Frances’ problems as an actress sliding into potential irrelevancy.
#11 Mia (played by Hope Davis) – Season 2
We will reserve our comments and let her last-place ranking speak for itself, but also add that her sessions are profound, providing deep insight into Paul’s past and the predicament he finds himself in as a therapist in the second season.
Bonus: While we didn’t add Paul to the official ranking, we’d be remiss not to mention how he’d fare against the other patients. Paul’s history with Gina runs deep and complicated, which blurs the lines of their therapist-patient relationship on far too many occasions. This ultimately leads him to Adele, who offers a wildly different and enticing therapist vibe, pushing Paul in a way never previously portrayed. Let’s just say, had they not booked Uzo Aduba for season 4, we would’ve been very keen on an Amy Ryan-led reboot.
Joining Aduba for the long-anticipated season 4 are Anthony Ramos, Joel Kinnaman, Quintessa Swindell, John Benjamin Hickey, and Liza Colón-Zayas, and we are so excited to see how they compare to the patients above, who so deeply captured our hearts during the show’s original run.
Have a ranking of your own? We’d love to hear!