Reality Bites: L.A. Shrinks

"Now tell me about your penis. Repeatedly."
"Now tell me about your penis. Repeatedly."

It's safe to say we live in a therapist culture. I don't know the exact percentage of Americans who currently seek some form of psychological assistance, but it's enough that doing so is no longer something people are ashamed to admit.

Which is a good thing, I guess. If talking through your problems and getting a different perspective on various root causes and self-destructive behaviors lifts you out of depression or helps you function as a better spouse/parent/corporate drone, more power to you.

But be honest; not every problem requires intervention, and not everyone in therapy needs to be there. For those with both extra disposable income and the need to air their mundane sexual issues in public, I give you L.A. Shrinks, a new Bravo show about Southern California's mildly disturbed and borderline neurotic doctors who treat them.

The first of three featured shrinks is "Dr. V," AKA Venus Nicolino, PhD. "Venus Nicolino" sounds more like a porn name than a respected therapist, but then, this is California. It also doesn't help my initial juvenile assessment that she's first portrayed shirtless and shrugging into a clingy dress, or that her first patients are a couple dealing with the boyfriend's oversized penis.

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Meanwhile, "Dr. Greg" is Greg Cason, who practices "cognitive behavioral therapy," which he describes as "listening to someone's problems" but I suspect is slightly more complicated. It also seems like a double-edged sword when listening to a woman describing how big her clitoris is.

You know, I think I'm starting to see a pattern with this show.

Dr. Greg also reads the horoscope to his partner without irony, which automatically calls his credentials into question.

Finally, there's Dr. Eris Huemer, a self-described "relationship expert." She continues our general theme by helping a couple in which the woman is complaining her husband isn't giving her the high hard one often enough.

Michael and Georgie, Dr. V's previously mentioned couple, continue their sexual self-flagellation by outlining Georgie's repressed childhood and irrational (?) fear of ejaculate after complaining Michael's girth is off-putting. Now I'm no big city health care lawyer, so I don't know what the relevant statutes are concerning patient confidentiality. I also realize applying for a California driver's license probably requires you to sign a waiver allowing yourself to be filmed 24 hours a day, but come. The fuck. On.

"Hey, did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too?"
"Hey, did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too?"

Meanwhile Neil and Kimberly (Eris's couple) continue to lament -- well, Kimberly does anyway -- that sex once a week isn't enough. She wants it three or four times over that same period, and Neil, who looks like Steve Pink in Grosse Pointe Blank, attempts to hide his resentment because in all fairness, Kimberly looks like she could go full Glenn Close at the drop of a hat.

Eris and husband Clayton, on the other hand, haven't had sex in months, and they don't even have children as an excuse. Eris would like to become a mother, but Clayton vehemently disagrees ("We'll have even *less* sex!"). Call me crazy, but having kids sounds like something a "relationship expert" would have discussed with a potential spouse before marrying him.

Speaking of whack jobs, Dr. Greg's patient Elizabeth entertains us all by screaming bloody murder to express her post-millennial, upper middle class rage. He turns the tables on her by talking about himself, making the fascinating (not really) revelation that they're both in open relationships.

I see what's going on here. In getting these head shrinkers to open up on camera, *we* becomes the sounding board. The audience serves as an omnipresent, Solomonic entity passing silent judgment. Who, indeed, psychoanalyzes the psychoanalyzers?

More to the point, who needs to? After a long day exchanging notes on polyamory, Greg decompresses on his balcony with a beer, lamenting being unable to fart during a session. You know, there are probably a lot of people out there who need a therapist but haven't mustered up the courage to seek one out. L.A. Shrinks won't be changing their minds anytime soon.


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