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    The Uproar Over Wonderland

    It makes me very sad to see a show -- any show -- about mental illness and psychiatric problems cancelled like this after only two episodes. Close-minded advocacy organizations, after viewing only these two episodes, made judgment after judgment about the show, its writing, and its quality, effectively leading to a boycott of the show by many of the very same people it seeks to portray. I find this saddening when people don't even give something like this a chance.

    Not everyone gets it right in the first 2 episodes, much less the first season. But sometimes, when a show is given the chance to grow into its topic area, surprising and creative results can emerge. Some of the most amazing television dramatic series began with a rocky start in their first season before hitting their stride and fleshing out what the show would be about.

    This show had a *lot* of potential, and was already showing the very real hectic, stressful lives that many mental health workers face on a daily basis. The effects of mental illness on families, on relationships, and how people cope with all of this would have been explored in upcoming episodes. Now, apparently, the world will never see these things. And in my book, that's just too bad.

    I think it was sad to see people who have a disorder to generalize that the show was about *them*. I'm not sure how many people have ever worked in Bellevue or know someone who has, but it is not a pretty place where they handle a lot of "ordinary" mentally ill (if one could say such a weird thing).

    Does NYPD seek to portray all of NYC's police? I don't think so, and I don't think for a moment anyone believes that all NYC cops are like the people on NYPD. Same with any show (Ally McBeal and lawyers, Party of Five and parentless children). These shows aren't meant as political statements, they are meant as compelling drama and ultimately, entertainment. They're not documentaries.

    I understand how if I had the diagnoses of depression, and then I saw a show where someone portrayed a depressed person like something I'm totally not, I might be upset. If I thought that person was meant to represent all depressed people over the world. But I never saw this show nor its producers holding the show out as a beacon of "This is a true portrayal of mental illness." They said, instead, that it's a show about an inpatient psychiatric hospital in a big city which will follow the lives of the hospital's staff, similar to ER. That's how these kinds of dramas are built, on the character development of the staff.

    Unfortunately, it seems easier to criticize a show after viewing 2 episodes of it, than it would be to give it a chance. Easier to make assumptions about the show's purpose because we identify so closely with our diagnosis, than to understand what the show is really about.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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