Monday, December 6, 2010

NAMI's Monthly Stigma Buster alerted me of the following:

Fox Television's Emmy-winning musical comedy, Glee, stepped into stigma for its November 16 episode, entitled "The Substitute", which mocked and trivialized bipolar disorder--and included imaginary violence as humor.

Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, as substitute teacher Holly Holliday, played Mary Todd Lincoln- wife of Abraham Lincoln- as part of a history lesson. In the video link (above), the short scene begins at the 39:10 minute mark. The transcript and dialogue reads:
Holly Holliday is standing at the front of class room dressed in 19th century clothing, lecturing to a high school class.

Holly Holliday: Mary Todd Lincoln in the house! My husband was probably gay and I'm bipolar, which makes me yell things like [pointing to a teapot], 'That teapot is spreading lies about me! Or, that can't be my baby because I don't love it! [throws imaginary baby over shoulder]
Mr. Schuester knocks on the door and asks Holly Holliday to speak with him for a moment.
Holly Holliday: Guys, practice your bipolar rants. See, history can be fun!

Please contact Fox TV and the director of the episode to express disappointment with the scene. Mental illness is not a joke. Would the show have included a scene that played AIDS or cancer for laughs?

Glee has enormous power to influence young people who constitute much of the show's audience-and for whom suicide is the third-leading cause of death. Ask the show to make amends by producing episodes that deal with mental illness accurately and compassionately and include themes of recovery.

Fox TV: Email address for comments on shows
Ryan Murphy (Glee creator, director, writer): 
Ryan Murphy Productions 
5555 Melrose Ave 
Chevalier Bldg. 
Los Angeles, CA 90038 
Phone: 323-956-5000 
Fax: 323-862-2121


  1. That's awful Amber, thanks for pointing it out. I never really pay attention to Glee because I don't watch it. However, this is just gross what they did. I am going to write to the head of Fox at the address you gave. I think a lot of teenagers watch this show, probably why I don't watch it (I am not the target audience). And you're right they can be struggle with some sort of mental illness. I know plenty of people who were diganosed specifically with biopolar disorder in their teens.

    Keep fighting my sister in fight against stigma,

  2. I don't watch the show either, can't get into network television :) Can you imagine the teen watching who will develop bipolar in future but will be too afraid to admit they need help because of stigma like this? Makes me angry. I am glad you are writing, every attempt to end stigma makes a difference in the long run!