Television: How shows portrayal of mental illness can affect viewers

Kaitlyn Wasilewski, Junior Writer

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Glorification in television shows and movies is a huge concept to use in the plot of the story. In most cases, a character starts the episode with an issue they are dealing with, and they later on discover that they don’t need to stop eating, or harm themselves, and the disorder magically disappears.

In Vulture’s “What TV Gets Wrong About Mental Illness,” it mentioned how the show writers fail to produce a diagnosis in the show, but continue the show by adding symptoms throughout the series.

“I don’t really consider it as glorification,” freshman English Teacher Jody Cuatt said. “Viewers can take the illness and use it as an excuse, or other cases, attention. Mental illnesses aren’t supposed to be a good thing.”

Fans of the production state that people can use the illness for attention, or to be portray as an internet meme. This means the excuse and the internet is coming off as “relatable.” This has angered the people who had gone through the issue themselves.

In the show, “Lizzie McGuire” the show’s character, Miranda, develops negative feelings toward her body and told herself to stop eating once and for all. The show ended the episode by curing Miranda’s disorder from the help of her friends, and it was never mentioned in another episode. The way this episode portrayed anorexia poorly was by giving a character an eating disorder, and then it goes away from the support they received. Miranda never showed any symptoms of anorexia, the disorder of being overly obsessed with your body image and weight which causes you to limit your consumption to lower your weight.

However, showing this problem so casually makes the very serious seem like a simple issue that can be easily fixed, which is not the case.

Shows like “Degrassi” revolve around junior high and high school peer pressure and teen drama, including friendship, relationship issues, drugs, teen pregnancy, and even mental health issues. Characters like Spinner who suffered from ADHD, to Zoe with a confirmed depression disorder. The hit show gives the audience an ideal representation of the psychiatric disorders in their show, they create a scene for the character to allow them to develop their disorder instead of doing it for one episode.

Mental health is another controversial topic we today as media still talk about. Some people agree on the reason that certain TV shows and movies romanticize mental health, but others disagree and claim it’s only for plot purposes.

Due to the glorification, the scene can easily trigger people who had, or have a mental disorder and it can effectively change their mindset; once they watch the scene from their computer or television screen, they feel like they’re back on square one. This can really hurt the person’s academics and relationships with other people, and might even hurt their illness more regardless of their mental issue.

If you are suffering from any mental illness, just remember to leave the room if you see something that might traumatize your health. If any television show or movie triggers unwelcome emotions and you don’t feel like yourself, you are encouraged to talk to a trusted adult.

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Television: How shows portrayal of mental illness can affect viewers