No better way to encourage acceptance and understanding then making a “who’s who” list of characters embodying social stigma. I’ll admit that I enjoy categorizing and making lists: my favorite Greek gods and goddesses, top 10 movie villains, etc. So why not a list of TV’s craziest? DishTV did it in a “critical” way by addressing the way TV handles these characters (handles? maybe deals with? nope, sounds bad too…………………….Addresses! Addresses these characters!):
Like many other areas of concern, Hollywood really does a poor job at portraying mental illness. There are some exceptions, of course, but for the most part TV shows turn problems like Asperger’s Syndrome or Multiple Personality Disorder into a sensationalized and often “zany” condition. Yet, having characters being pumped down through your dish TV signal who are mentally ill does serve at least one positive purpose, and that is raising awareness of those conditions.
Did you notice the plug for DishTV in that paragraph?
The first person they mention is my recent favorite, Tara of United States of Tara.
Tara. Tara Gregson is the title character for a relatively new program on Showtime. This character suffers from multiple personality disorder, and during the course of the program she’ll move from her identity as a mother to “Buck,” a beer-loving redneck man, or to one of her other identities. Multiple personality disorder (also formerly called “Dissociative Identity Disorder”) makes for great TV plots, but it’s also easy to become almost cartoonish.
Cartoonish. Okay I’ll take it…for now.
The third character they mention is Dr. Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.
Doctor Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. Jim Parsons’ portrayal of the brilliant – yet annoyingly quirky – physicist has won several awards. Although no diagnosis has been discussed on the show, it’s readily apparent that Sheldon suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. The show’s portrayal is occasionally cartoonish, but Sheldon remains a somewhat enjoyable character as well.
This description is very interesting. First off the show has not actually discussed an official diagnosis…but the mental health specialists at DishTV took care of that. CLEARLY the character of Dr. Cooper SUFFERS from Asperger’s Syndrome. Am I saying their diagnosis is wrong? No, I’m not expert enough to call such a thing…not like they are. Also apparently one who has Asperger’s is suffering. Now I shouldn’t be harsh on this, I am in fact in social work school and we are taught not to use such language. The clinicians at DishTV, though qualified to diagnose, may not have gained that same awareness. If Sheldon is an enjoyable character, and from what I’ve seen of the show he is a successful and confidant individual with a pseudo-girlfriend who bears a striking resemblance to early nineties TV icon, Blossom, then how is he suffering? By the way…cartoonish again.
Lastly they decided to step into sacred territory! Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H, a family favorite in my house.
Doctor Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H*. Few who saw the final episodes of this show will forget how Hawkeye struggled with depression, even to the point of psychosis, at the end of the Korean war. While this portrayal is dated in terms of the actual psychological ideas being tossed around, it still remains a powerful look at what depression does to a person.
Again the DishTV researchers have assessed the change through time of “the actual psychological ideas being tossed around.” And yes, depression can have a very powerful effect on an individual. So can being in the middle of a war-zone. So can witnessing a woman smother her child to keep it quiet. Perhaps there is more to someone’s change in behavior then depression. No mention of trauma’s role in Hawkeye’s reactions. DishTV specialists…I’m disappointed, things are not that simple. By the way…no asterisk after the ‘H’ my friends.