Starving for the Small Screen

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The first time I ever caught wind of an eating disorder, it was on some random Lifetime movie. I learned that night that I’d rather be a fat kid, than die of a heart attack in my teens because I wore out my heart puking to be thin. To be fair, most of my knowledge about the world came from television. It’s our real window into the outside world. Anyways, back to television and how it’s taught us the ins and outs of eating disorders over the years and where we are today.

Teens, especially girls, have a high rate of anorexia and bulimia – so it’s no surprise that shows like Saved by the Bell (the New Class that was far inferior to Zack Morris) and Degrassi weren’t shy about shining a light on these disorders. When they do though, there’s never any comedic charm because…why would there be? These mental disorders can lead to death and last time I checked, that’s not too comical.

Then we progressed and found a way to laugh at these two, as well as binge eating in 2005. Well, sort of. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia wasn’t always FX’s darling. Nope, when it first aired, it followed Starved, a show the network thought was going to be a bigger deal than it ever was. In reality it aired seven episodes and then was done. Truth be told though, it was pretty funny – but following the lives of of bulimic, anorexic and someone who binge eats wasn’t doing it for audiences. Why though, why weren’t we ready for this? I’m not sure, but it seems like we needed it to be lighter and then in walked five years later.

Mike and Molly started out as a love story between two people who met an an Over-eaters Anonymous Meeting, but today isn’t really about their weight. In a way I liked that we shifted away from their weight because love is love and at the end of the day you just want to watch a show because of your attachment to the characters and not the hidden agenda. On the other hand, you want that psyche, what it’s like inside the mind of someone suffering from something. Perhaps a show centered around an eating disorder be it anorexia or binge eating – was never meant for laughter.

With that in mind, someone in Hollywood start penning a drama about the subject because the I for one think when you put it out there, it doesn’t necessarily normalize it to make it seem like a positive, but it opens up a conversation for people to have. Perhaps it’d help a kid suffering through one of those to come forward and talk about it, and get help. Maybe it’s because television has at times been my parents, my friends, my educational tool, my way of looking into worlds unknown to me in my small desert town – but TV can do wonders when the story is right. Hey, I saw that Lifetime movie maybe 15 years ago and I’m still preaching about the effects puking can have on your heart.

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