UnREAL KEEPS IT REAL ON MENTAL ILLNESS

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Andrew CristiWriter and author, ‘The Peter Pandrew Trilogy’

Original Article Published on HuffingtonPost.com

6/2/2016

If you’re a sufferer of mental illness, you’ve undoubtedly felt the sting of the media’s portrayal of your disorder. From film’s like Fatal Attraction to The Cable Guy, mainstream media has always found a way to make disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder seem not only cringe-worthy, but downright frightening. These depictions only lend to misrepresentations of mental illness that lead to the stigmas that society has come to know- stigmas the sufferers have been desperately trying to live down as all they want is to be seen for who they really are. Everyone who has struggled has said at one point or another; “How hard is this for them to get right?”

Enter UnReal; Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s genius creation about what goes on behind the scenes on a Bachelor-like competition reality program, and the type of personality it takes to work in this world. The show centers around her protagonist, Rachel (played flawlessly by Shiri Appleby), who is trying to find purpose and do good in the world but is just a little too good at the manipulation her job entails and keeps getting drawn back in. She has been given a cocktail of co-morbid disorders from Bipolar Disorder, to Borderline Personality Disorder, to ADHD, to Narcissistic Personality Disorder- and Applebly exhibits each one of these nuanced differences with such researched and devoted skill that the Emmy should simply be handed to her on a silver platter. This is a show that finally gets mental illness right.

The Paley Center for Media in New York presented a sneak preview and intimate discussion for UnReal‘s sophomore season (debuting June 6th on Lifetime), and it appears the show manages to not only stay on point, but exceed expectations. Shapiro goes further on those expectations for season two regarding what people are going to see for Rachel’s mental state by saying; “I think in season one we asked the question, ‘Is Rachel Crazy?’ and in season 2, we answer that.”

 

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