Mad TV


Fox's new TV show tries to make mental illness entertaining. It isn't.

By Liz Spikol 
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 4 | Posted Jun. 16, 2009

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These are sobering facts with large-scale societal implications. 


The homelessness among people with schizophrenia is connected to socioeconomic conditions that potentially share responsibility for the etiology of the illness. 


The high rate of incarceration is the fault of an overburdened criminal justice system unequipped to serve as a de facto mental healthcare system. 


The mortality and physical illnesses among the severely mentally ill are often due to metabolic effects of overused antipsychotics. 


So here’s what reality looks like: understaffed wards with very sick people, many of them minorities, many of them overweight, who are doped up with medication, shuffled in and out of impotent “therapy” groups, and released when insurance runs out—generally in three days—whether they’re well or not. 


They don’t have private rooms. They don’t receive individual attention. They’re not intriguing mysteries to these hospitals; they’re burdens and profit points. 


How’s that for a fun TV show? Sorry, America, serious mental illness isn’t entertaining; we don’t go in and get tended to by multiple doctors searching for clues as though they’re on CSI: Loony Bin. 


You can bet if Fox had a show called Chemo set in an oncology ward, producers would feel an obligation to verisimilitude and gravity. But Fox wouldn’t dare do such a show, of course. Because cancer is serious. 


I’m sad to see that mainstream media still seems to see people with mental illness as figures of fun. I, for one, am not laughing.

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Comments 1 - 4 of 4
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1. Anonymous said... on Jun 18, 2009 at 03:12AM

“I recently did a seven-day stint at a local mental hospital, and Ms. Spikol is certainly right that the Fox show distorts the reality of such places. I hadn't been hospitalized since I was a teenager in the late 1980s, and I was unprepared for how stressful and unpleasant my recent experience actually turned out to be. Too few staff; staff that seemed either indifferent and just there to collect a paycheck, or else struggling to do some good for the patients yet overwhelmed; violent patients that have proven themselves to be a threat kept on the same ward with non-violent; fights breaking out over minor things or over nothing; people not getting the meds they need; little or no recreational outlets; these are the realities of far too many mental health facilities in cities like Philadelphia.”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jun 18, 2009 at 03:19AM

“By the way, Ms. Spikol, what's up with referring to a character as "a large African-American orderly"? Is his race relevant to the plot in some way? And did you mean to say that African Americans are 200 percent more likely to have schizophrenia than whites, or just 200 percent more likely to be diagnosed with it in certain contexts?”

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3. Anonymous said... on Jul 4, 2009 at 04:37PM

“Wow, so Liz Spikol is a white supremacist, excellent extracurricular to have for writing reviews. Maybe if you can learn how to tone down the constant belchings of African-American schizophrenic homelessness for a second, I can put some weight into your review!

I mean, C'mon, "The homelessness among people with schizophrenia is connected to socioeconomic conditions that potentially share responsibility for the etiology of the illness." Okay, so the fact that homeless schizophrenics are in a terrible socioeconomic class is actually the root cause of said schizophrenia?! BS plz!”

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4. corrynn said... on Aug 1, 2010 at 02:30PM

“Wow people really, why twist words in your comments. Come on it's an article and all of what she is reporting as far as statistics are true. So do we all have to be so grammatically correct. All terms (homeless, gay, black, white, whatever) are just labels! You should be more upset that WE use them!
:p”

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