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Social Issues in Television Fiction$
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Lesley Henderson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780748625314

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625314.001.0001

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Casting the Outsiders: Mental Distress

Casting the Outsiders: Mental Distress

Chapter:
(p.93) Chapter 5 Casting the Outsiders: Mental Distress
Source:
Social Issues in Television Fiction
Author(s):

Lesley Henderson

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748625314.003.0005

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

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