Isis and I have been renting Dr. Katz lately. TV on DVD is really, really nice. You can watch old shows, new shows, whenever you want. Also cool is being able to watch the arch of a season in a compressed timeline. You see a lot of small details (themes, recurring characters, little in-jokes) that I never noticed before.
As we’ve been watching, I became curious about the character Laura, Dr. Katz’s receptionist and Ben Katz’s love interest. She pretty much has the run of Dr. Katz’s office; the surprising thing is that she does any work at all. She knows she has a good situation; she can pretty much walk all over the passive Dr. Katz. The biggest drawback to her job (besides the work, which she openly despises) is having to deal constantly with Ben, who will call and stop by throughout the day ostensibly to talk to his dad but really to talk to her.
After watching a good number of episodes, the characters’ backstories have begun to emerge. Dr. Katz used to be a folk singer, he got divorced and now lives with his grown son. Ben is perpetually trying to hide from life. He comes up with job ideas that are so far fetched they will never succeed. The real mystery is Laura.
How long has she lived in the city? What jobs did she have before this one? I could see her as a barista before she saw the ad for receptionist that changed her life. The bored, aloof expression she keeps seems to communicate coffeehouse malaise.
It seems as though she has a boyfriend (or boyfriends) in Europe. Dr. Katz has had to question her about her expensive long-distance calls during office hours. She, of course, doesn’t have to pay for them. What kind of a man would Laura even be attracted to? A hipster? A soccer player? An egghead? The only thing I can rule out with certainty is every single patient Dr. Katz sees. Which is probably for the best. Do you want to meet someone at a therapist’s office?
These questions may never be answered. All I know is there are 8 more DVDs of Dr. Katz waiting for us, if we choose to rent them. Maybe one of the discs will unlock the secret life of Laura. Maybe she will remain an enigma, forever belittling Ben and every patient who walks through Dr. Katz’s door.