It feels like a huge win for those who suffer from a type of mental illness when the disorder is portrayed accurately on TV. Shows such as "Shameless" and "Homeland" do a fantastic job of presenting mental health issues how they actually are.
Unfortunately, some shows give their characters a mental disorder and then it magically disappears after one "groundbreaking" episode. Let's take a look at seven of these shows and see why they're not true to life.
While you probably remember this episode for that killer dance number, an even bigger event happens. Miranda (Lalaine) thinks she's too fat, so she develops an eating disorder. By the end of the episode, however, Miranda's friends are able to convince her she looks great, and her eating disorder magically goes away. It's never referenced in another episode.
This is definitely not accurate. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), "Eating disorders are serious biologically-influenced mental illnesses, not passing fads." So, if Miranda's condition was portrayed accurately, she would still be suffering from her eating disorder in future episodes.
Remember that random season 4 episode when D.J. (Candace Cameron Bure) had anorexia? It's pretty easy to forget, since D.J. only had the eating disorder for 30 minutes (or 22, if you don't count commercials). As we just learned from the NIMH, eating disorders aren't just here one second, gone the next. They are serious issues that take adequate time to overcome. As much as we appreciate a good ol' Danny Tanner dad talk, in reality, that's not how eating disorders go away.
We learned in the first season of PLL that Hanna (Ashley Benson) suffered from bulimia in the past. Her friend Alison (Sasha Pieterse) "helped [Hanna] throw up." As Hanna confesses all this to Aria (Lucy Hale), she tells her that she basically overcame it on her own. It just magically went away. (Are you noticing a pattern here?) Again, the NIMH states eating disorders don't just magically go away.
In one episode of this classic Nick show, Sid becomes obsessed — with a capital O — with germs. After watching a hygiene video, he constantly cleans everything he comes in contact with and eventually wears "protective" clothing. After Arnold explains to Sid that germs are everywhere, Sid almost instantly is back to himself again.
To be fair, the episode never clearly says Sid has OCD, but it's definitely implied. Since that's the case, Sid's OCD wouldn't just cure itself. There are several ways to treat OCD, such as medication or cognitive behavior therapy, but Sid's mental illness went POOF, and was gone. Sadly, it's not that easy to overcome OCD. Trust me, I know.
One of the most iconic moments from this show has to be Jessie's (Elizabeth Berkley) caffeine pill addiction. In order to get through midterms and her singing group, Jessie starts popping pills to stay away and stay focused. Of course, the pills end up having the opposite effect, after she has a breakdown in front of her BFF Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar). At the end of the episode, Jessie is surrounded by her friends and tells them, "My mom's taking me to the doctor tomorrow for counseling." Annnnd, that's it.
Jessie's issue isn't addressed in any future episodes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) states, "Gaining the ability to stop abusing drugs is just one part of a long and complex recovery process." The key words here are "long" and "complex," neither of which are applied to Jessie's addiction.
Remember that time Dawson Leery showed up on the serial killer show and got Spencer Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler) hooked on drugs? No? Hmm, that's probably because Reid's drug addiction wasn't presented as a serious, life-altering problem. It's referenced at the end of season 3 that he's been clean for quite some time, but if his drug addiction was portrayed as accurately as possible, we would've seen him having serious withdrawals and probably having to take time off from work to recover.
Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank
In one episode, Grace (Debra Messing) tries to get out of jury duty by forging a note from her therapist that reads, "Borderline personality disorder. High-risk for psychotic break, particularly in a stressful situation." Later, Grace tricks her friends into really thinking she's mentally ill, and they become afraid of her.
The main problem with this episode is it presents people with mental health issues as "crazy people." It's helping to enhance the stigma surrounding mental disorders. True, the show is a comedy and at face-value, the scenes play out as entertaining. But, if you take a moment and really think about what you're watching, you'll notice it presents people who actually do have borderline personality disorder as neurotic people who we should fear and avoid -- and this is simply the wrong message.