I have noticed an increase in shows using bipolar characters in storylines. Great, right? Anything to show the truth of the disorder, right? It all raises awareness…. right?!
Yeah, except they all seem to be dramas.
Mind, I don’t like dramas. My brain is drama enough, especially with anxiety and OCD features making it even harder to logic things into place. And it would be one thing if it just happened that there was a character who had bipolar in the show… but it seems to routinely be ‘Bipolar person goes off of their meds, goes off the deep end, drama ensues’… which, while accurate to a point (Natasha Tracy makes a good point about how missing a dose doesn’t make someone automatically manic in her review of Black Box’s first episode), is kiiind of insulting. Missing a dose sucks, yes, but it doesn’t automatically make someone ‘go crazy’.
And that’s not even touching that it’s always a female character. I’ve seen this with Black Box and Homeland in the States, Rookie Blue in Canada, and even Hollyoaks here in the United Kingdom will be featuring a female bipolar character imminently (I’m not sure if it’s happened yet or not). We know from Miss Tracy’s review that while some of the portrayal of aspects of mania are accurate (and in the case of Rookie Blue and Hollyoaks, extensive research into bipolar is claimed to have been done in advance), in that they can be parts of a manic episode, it doesn’t change the fact that, to me, it feels like an excuse to portray ‘Crazy bitches be crazy ’cause women are hysterical and lesser, lulz’. It’s the same sort of misogyny that makes people think songs like Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry are not only okay, but that anyone who dares complain about being offended is *obviously* just some sort of bitter feminist with no sense of humour.
All I know is that my disorder is very real, and that I don’t think it’s okay for it to be used as a minimizing plot point. It’s the same reason I opted to bow out of an invite to be part of a documentary here; when they told me they wanted specifically people with Bipolar I and rapid cycling ‘because people don’t know about those’, I tensed up and refused to respond. Way to tell me you give absolutely no fucks about an accurate portrayal of the bipolar spectrum, mate — you’ve just told me you want me to find you the people suffering the most to up your ratings. Bipolar is a spectrum, and some of us function, and some of us don’t, but focusing only on the ‘drama’ stigmatizes the entire lot of us as ‘Oh, those poor crazy people!’. And here in the United Kingdom, where we have a government intent on demonizing anyone not working and healthy as skivvers and benefits cheats, and are trying to force them all into workfare ‘for their own good’? Eeesh.
But hey, maybe I’m being terribly unfair about these shows. Maybe these females are being portrayed as strong and not totally ruining everything forever at key points for dramatic convenience. I probably won’t know first-hand, because it’s not my genre of preference. But you’ll forgive me if I choose to not find out; I have almost nothing in the way of spoons, and I’m blowing more than enough at spluttering indignation at general stereotyping and dismissal of mentally ill by society as a whole. Yeah, I’ll hopefully have a post about that soon too, once I piece together things I’ve written on Facebook and Livejournal and condense it down into something useful for here.
For now though, hope you are all doing as well as can be expected.