ABC’s ‘Black Box’ airs Thursdays at 10PM EST
3 out of 4 Stars
We watch television for two simple reasons – to entertain and/or educate. ABC’s new series ‘Black Box’ does both. As your average individual with a medical background in ADHD, epilepsy and seizure disorders from the School of Life, this new series intrigues me. The extent of my understanding of the term ‘bipolar’ is mood swings, treatable with medication, can make you do crazy things.
So I tuned in to this new show on Thursday evening at 10pm EST as it filled the void left by the ‘Scandal’ season finale last week. I watched as a woman, as a mother, as a patient. I understand that tendency to go off the meds because I’ve done it, my son has done it. It’s normal. It is what normal people do who do not want to take medication for the rest of their lives, who want to rebel at a diagnosis they do not want or agree with.
The show centers around Dr. Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly), a world-famous neurologist with a secret. Only her family and her psychiatrist know the truth – she’s bipolar. She works in New York City as the medical director at a neurological center known as “The Cube.” Every week the staff of The Cube will be challenged by cases never seen before on television – patients with rare, highly visual, often hallucinogenic and startling conditions. She has been able to hide her condition from her co-workers, but her secret is in jeopardy when she goes off her medications and begins dancing in the stairwell at work.
I loved that there was a plot twist right in the first episode. Catherine and her older brother, Joshua Black (David Chisum), share a difficult childhood made so by a mother who was bipolar as well and committed suicide by loading her pockets full of rocks and just walking off into the ocean when Catherine was just a young girl. Catherine has spent her entire life focusing on not becoming her mother.
The pilot episode shows Catherine as a doting aunt to her niece, Esme (Siobhan Williams) who appears to be the daughter of Joshua and Reagan Black (Laura Fraser), when in reality, Catherine is Esme’s mother, but Joshua and Reagan are raising her as their own. Esme has no idea that Catherine is her mother, but she feels a connection with her aunt that just is not there with her ‘mother’ and one she can’t understand.
Catherine has been able to keep from her boyfriend, Will (David Ajala), that she is bipolar for over a year. She doesn’t know how to tell him about her condition, or that she sometimes goes off her medication. When he pushes her for an answer on whether she will marry him, she decides to show him the darker side of herself and goes off her meds. She lets him into the world she’s hidden from him for so long.
I would be remise if I did not mention the wonderfully refreshing and unique patients that Dr. Black treats as well. As a woman who has grown up her entire life with epilepsy and as a mother dealing with ADHD and ODD, I am intrigued by the power of the mind and how it operates. How the differences between my children and I are actually some of the very things that make us the same when it comes to how our brains work.
A show that veers away from the usual medical conditions and brings a refreshing dose of out-of-the-ordinary and insight into how we as people deal with these conditions and how the world sees us differently and treats us differently is one that I will personally be tuned into each week.
You can find out more about the cast of ‘Black Box’ by clicking their names below. If you missed the pilot episode of ‘Black Box’ which aired April 24 on ABC, you can watch it here.
‘Black Box’ stars:
- Kelly Reilly as Catherine Black
- Ditch Davey as Dr. Ian Bickman
- David Ajala as Will Van Renseller
- Ali Wong as Dr. Lina Lark
- Laura Fraser as Reagan Black
- David Chisum as Joshua Black
- Siobhan Williams as Esme Black
- Terry Kinney as Dr. Owen Morely
- Vanessa Redgrave as Dr. Hartramph
In Conclusion: This is a show that is worth watching and one that my entire family will be tuned into each week and discussing. Hubby and I have differing opinions of the show, but while he wasn’t all that thrilled about a ‘new’ show I was subjecting him to, he did sit and watch the show in its entirety with his usual snarky commentary. I don’t foresee this being one of his favorites (like Scandal), but I do see him tuning in each week just to see what happens.
Individuals w/bipolar disorder work hard to educate the public. Famous actors like Patty Duke when finally diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder & received the help needed stated in an interview "never ever even remotely thought of not taking the medication, ”because when her disorder was out-of-control it hurt her children & herself. I have worked as an MSW. People suffering from mental health disorders have enough difficulties finding the correct meds. Show does a disservice to the public to suggest not taking medication and glamorizing the results.