Did somebody loose the key to the loony bin?
It seems like every show on TV these recent years consists of one or several crazy people. Usually solving things.
Some of them are known to us as Superheroes. As if that makes everything alright! Sorry, this rant is not about supes. Or is it?
I am not here to put labels, but as one who wants awareness, I am curious about how mental health issues are expressed or implied on mainstream TV-shows. What is this interest in the psychotic yet helpful?
Why is it almost always connected to behaving as a douchebag?
Does mental illness/high intelligence give a free pass to behave as a dick?
Is it just another bad boy (needs saving) trope, a fixation on the Eccentric, or just another tribute to the Genius?
Or are they in fact the new superheroes, their issues often described as talents and gifts in an almost supernatural sense. A common man hero, sort of. More common than the common man becoming a superhero, that is.
Or is it a poorly concealed, yet bogus pat on the shoulder to all fighters out there, living, enduring or barely holding on.
Cue: Heroes by Alesso ft. Tove Lo.
Some of the shows are following this trend head on. I have made a compilation rant of them. I might have missed some. I might have ignored some.
House M.D. (2004-2012)
Honestly, I have not seen enough of this show to say anything meaningful about it. But then again, there might not be any meaning to it at all. I have however seen enough to make highly astute guesses. Because lets be honest, every episode is the same one.
House is being an asshole but occasionally he shows a couple of seconds of remorse or goodwill. Enough to like him, or at least accept his bullshit. Not to forget; he saves life!
His superpower: He can medic-babble for 40 minutes.
I saw perhaps half of the first season back in 2006 so I am really just shooting blanks here.
As I remembered it, it was no confusion to the fact that Dexter is mental, but he was not an unsocial jerk. He just could not stop killing (bad) people. How people would sit through this for seven years is beyond me.
His superpower: a never ending supply of duct tape and plastic wrapping.
Adrian Monk is the human personification of OCD, complete with 312 fears and phobias. The show is comedic in its form but portrayed with so much love you are compelled to see his beauty.
His superpower: Did I mention he has 312 fears? It is a miracle he gets out of bed in the morning!
It is implied that forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan has Asperger’s.
I have only seen an episode here and there, but I get the impression that she comes of as a strong female lead in spite of her challenges. Flawed but lovable.
Bones superpower: When she points a finger out in the air, a three-dimensional graph or other medical image pops up, showing someone’s insides.
Carrie Mathison is another strong female lead on TV. I am immensely impressed by the portray of bipolar disorder in the first season of Homeland.
Carrie is very good at what she does, but her strengths are also her weaknesses. It deserves a better mention than just a paragraph in a compilation rant, so I am writing a whole post on her, but this is all I got for now.
Her superpower: A never-ending supply of highlight markers in different colors.
This investigating duo consists of a flat Rachael Leigh Cook and a scrubby heterosexual Will from Will&Grace, complete with flannels and a 3-day beard.
His mental health problems are first referred to as visions, incidents, then goes on to be called conditions, schizophrenic hallucinations and finally recognized as Paranoid Schizophrenia.
Not a good show. However, portraying the different phases of his illnesses is very good although oversimplified.
Superpower: His hallucinations are just as smart as him.
This show tries to remake Sherlock (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) in a more modern version. By moving him to the US, giving him some AA advice and a female Watson. Not to forget, a female Moriarty. You know you are witnessing post-modern stuff when half the characters change their gender. It is however, worth watching because of the cast.
Sherlock’s superpower: Animal companion: Clyde the turtle.
The Following (2013-2015)
A change from the other shows, The Following does not have a psycho investigator. Ryan Hardy might suffer from different disorders he self-medicates with alcohol and self-sacrifice, but it is this shows antagonist Joe Carroll that is the crackpot. Although I believe his followers must be even crazier because this cult leader is as charismatic as a wall-to-wall carpet.
Why someone would follow this man, and why people would watch this, is still an enigma to me. Perhaps that is Carroll’s superpower.
The Blacklist (2013-)
Yet another crime/drama/mystery worth mentioning. Reddington is leading agents around in a maze, not sure when he will turn on them or not. Is he psychotic, desperate, fatherly or only out for revenge? Is he an intuitive genius or has he staged everything from the beginning?
Reddingtons superpower: No one beats him at party planning.
If one genius is not lovable enough, why would you bring in some more? Now we have a whole band of them. Are they mental or just unpleasant? This is a relative new instalment of the “crazy and obnoxious helping the happy (?) untalented”. This show lost me just a couple of episodes in.
Superpower: Instant WiFi access.
The Bridge (2013-)
This one is on my to-watch-list. In fact, all of the versions are on it. You have the Swedish/Danish original Broen, the US version The Bridge at the border to Mexico, and the UK version The Tunnel between UK and France.
Sonya Cross (US) seems like a flawed and strong female protagonist. I have read somewhere that she is supposed to have Asperger’s but it is never explained during the show. Anyway, I am looking forward to checking this one out.
This is also on my-to-watch-list, but is it yet another version of the crazy leading the blind?
It is based on the novel Red Dragon (Thomas Harris, 1981) about our favorite cannibal Hannibal Lecter. What is not to love?
If you have questions about mental health issues, please contact your national and/or local mental health organizations and clinics.