Tuesday, 8 May 2012

'Homeland' Why no realistic depiction of mania?

Just for once I wish that they would get it right. Just for once. They had every opportunity to get it right this time and, as per usual, they didn't. I'm talking about 'Homeland' here. There was a truly believable depiction of a breakdown leading to a manic episode. Beautifully acted by Claire Danes and this was well written and heartbreakingly depicted but then the screenwriters had to concertina belief into absurdity.

A manic episode in general takes time to evolve. It's certainly not going to be all-encompassing and then responding to medication in the space of five days! Lithium and anti-psychotics take weeks to produce the brain chemistry that absorbs the psychosis. Why couldn't they get that right? It's frustrating. For people who know so little about manic episodes, here was the perfect place. Is it laziness? Arrogance? Ignorance? What is it about film and tv that scriptwriters will never do the proper research?

Then the final lie: Electroconvulsive therapy. The Cuckoo's Nest. ECT. A treatment that is only now incorporated into treatment when everything else has failed. Carrie's character has functioned well on medication. She says that she goes to various meetings. She has a strong family where both her father (who also appears to be a sufferer with the disease) and her sister (a doctor) are fully supportive. This whole episode lasts five days. Then why does she need ECT? She states that she can't go on like this. But it's not even a week!

I know. I understand. This is tv. People have short attention spans. Ideas have to be encapsulated into a precis. But what could have been an outstanding demonstration for the unitiated into what is the most 'normal' depiction of a manic episode, leading to the suicidal depression, became a shlock-fest of an American soap. Lazy, complacent and shock-inducing rubbish.

I'm disappointed. I wonder how the Israeli version has dealt with Bipolar disorder. Per capita more Jews suffer this illness than other members of society. There's certainly a well of experience to draw from there. I hope it's more intelligent. Less pandering. Who needs to be left with visions of a young woman, shackled down to a gurney, IV line in place, rubber shoved between teeth to stop her from biting off her tongue and visions of the agony of the medically induced fit, just so that the viewer is enticed with a memo of the episode to come?'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just watched the final episode and was also upset to see that they chose this route. No one goes from that manic( great acting by danes) to the lows overnight, way too unrealistic. Not even in a mixed state... She functioned on her meds, so it was just weird that her family would sit by and allow her to opt for electro shock treatment. bit of a rubbish ending to be honest. jmo