Yesterday, a friend asked what I think of how OCD is portrayed on TV. The answer isn’t as cut and dry as you might expect.
This is actually a good time to tackle the subject, because yesterday I got the following message from someone who read my “Red Bull Blues” post:
My name is Rebecca and I’m a casting producer for the TLC show “Freaky Eaters.” We’re currently looking for ADULTS ADDICTED TO ENERGY DRINKS for Season 2 of the show.
For more info or to nominate someone, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, age, number, and brief description of your daily consumption of energy drinks/caffeine.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Sorry, Rebecca. I won’t be auditioning for that one. No offense.
It’s not that I don’t think there’s a useful case study to be had in the stories of people addicted to energy drinks. I just don’t think most of the reality shows are doing it right. The goal is always to show the viewer a train wreck purely for the sake of the train wreck. I never walk away learning anything new about what to do if you have such an addiction.
As a recovering addict, I know the real answer is years of often painful, often mundane and always complicated therapy and building of coping skills. I have yet to see a 30- or 60-minute reality show that pulls it off.
If a mental illness is going to be tackled in a reality TV show, give me something I can use. I don’t need drama for drama’s sake.
Another question is if I get angry about shows that poke fun at people with OCD. No, I don’t.
If you can’t laugh at it from time to time, you can’t successfully fight it. Let’s be honest: Some of the habits of an OCD head case like me are amusing. It’s hard not to crack a smile at the sight of someone checking their laptop bag seven times to make sure the computer is really in there. I do that all the time, and I don’t mind if someone finds amusement in it.
Then there are TV shows like “Monk.” I was never a consistent viewer of that one, but I always liked what I did see. What’s not to like about an OCD guy who solves crimes?
Bottom line: Most programming about OCD is harmless. Sometimes you actually learn something valuable. Sometimes, the program is nothing but crap that was made for the sake of drama.
There is a movie being made that I think is going to change the way people look at OCD cases.
A reader pointed me toward the website for “Machine Man: The Movie” last month, and I’ve been digging around the site, totally captivated. There’s a “why we’re doing this” clip on the site that sounds a lot like the reasons I started this blog.
The website is chock full of useful information on the illness and I think the project is going to help a lot of people understand what this is all about.
Film maker Kellie Madison deserves a lot of praise for taking on this complicated beast.
She could also use everyone’s help to fund this project.
From the Facebook page:
“We are raising all of the money for this movie through donations and fundraising! Our hope is to demystify some of the stigma attached to OCD and encourage people to seek proper treatment and get their lives back! Be a part of making this project happen!”
At the very least, you should “like” the Facebook page for the film and share it with friends and family. They will learn a lot.
Bottom line: There’s a lot of crap about OCD on TV, but for someone like me to get uptight about it would just be a waste of time. There’s also a lot of useful programming on the disorder, especially the news-based programs.
But good or bad, I don’t get offended. The folks who are serious about getting an education in mental health know where to find the valuable stuff most of the time.