I am a bit confused and disappointed when I see how mental issues are portrayed on television. There is a new series out on Hulu which offers hope, however. Hugh Laurie who once played the despicable Dr. House is now playing one quite different, a compassionate if not perplexed neuropsychiatrist. Chance is plagued by an attractive patient with “multiple personality” or dissociative disorder. I wonder how it is going to play out. In other series, I have come to feel that perhaps society is afraid of mental illness- to portray it accurately.
In the series Homeland for instance, Brody one of the main characters, definitely has PTSD, yet there is hardly a mention of it nor any therapy given to him when he arrives home from being a POW in Iraq. He has in fact what doctors call PTSD with DID or Dissociative Identity Disorder. As a soldier he was taken prisoner, suffered repeated beatings and unspeakable torture. He takes on a terrorist persona in order to survive the ordeal but he never relinquished the persona even when he comes home, and is celebrated as a hero in the United States. The results are devastating for the country and himself.
In Mr. Robot, Elliot struggles with his persona of his late father who tried to kill him as a young man. He is a vigilante hacker starting a revolution against corporate America. His “father” tells him how to do it. In a talk show after the 1st episode, Elliot is described as having an overactive imagination and anti-social. Really? On twitter it was tweeted about the potential surprise you get when you figure out all of the characters are dissociative personalities of Elliott! In this case, the audience may know best!
Drama and comedy have been a way that society talks to itself about difficult issues. The Wire, Archie Bunker in the 60s, Roots are some that come to mind. Why can’t we be real about mental health issues? Dr. Chance’s philosophy is that in every situation there is hope. I say let’s give Chance, a chance.