Chapter

Casting the Outsiders: Mental Distress

Lesley Henderson

in Social Issues in Television Fiction

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780748625314
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651177 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625314.003.0005
Casting the Outsiders: Mental Distress

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This chapter examines media values that influence how mental distress is represented in television drama. It is less concerned with the correlations between fiction and accuracy, instead focusing on the wider questions of how and why fictional characters with mental health problems are introduced to programme narratives and their role. In particular, the chapter explores the factors that influenced the production team from Coronation Street to construct a storyline about a young woman, Carmel, who suffers from the condition erotomania. The point in the chapter is not to argue that sexual abusers are ‘in reality’ motivated by mental health problems, but, as shall be seen, that there are interesting similarities in how the two portrayals of the characters of Carmel and Trevor of Brookside were constructed. The similarities of the portrayals of Carmel and Trevor identify shared production values across different programmes in relation to specific social issues, regardless of programme and production staff members. The chapter ends with reflections on producing social issue storylines in television fiction, and by comparing and contrasting all three case studies and the values and priorities of television drama personnel.

Keywords: media values; mental distress; mental health problems; Coronation Street; production values; production staff members; social issue storylines

Chapter.  7029 words. 

Subjects: Television

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