Back during the spring of 2000, ABC aired a mere two episodes of Wonderland which was, very simply put, a pretty gritty series that involved the goings-on of a psychiatric ward. Because I was too busy trying to bring up my grade point average after an…interesting first semester in college, I didn’t watch a whole lot of television that spring; however, to my understanding, Wonderland was both praised by critics and loathed by mental health advocates.
As if it’s trying to build a reputation for salvaging potentially awesome television (think Friday Night Lights – which was also written by Wonderland writer Peter Berg – only, without the “potential,” because clearly that show rocks), DirecTV began airing the remaining eight unaired Wonderland episodes from 2000 last night on its 101 Network.
Television shows, movies, books, and even their writers all have a fine line to walk when it comes to mental illness and entertainment. They’re either going to do it well and refrain from enraging the masses, or they’re going to fail miserably and become the target of a proverbial head hunt. Wonderland seemed to accomplish both back in 2000 (again, the critics loved it, but as About.com writer Marcia Purse pointed out, there were nine mental health organizations that called Wonderland a “public health hazard”), so I’m interested in seeing how it’s received this time around.
Although I completely understand how the media’s portrayal of mental illness can negatively affect real people with mental health issues, it takes quite a bit before I’m personally offended. Just from the descriptions I’ve read, I doubt Wonderland would be something that ticks me off (of course, I’ve been wrong before); however, I don’t have DirecTV, so I can’t watch Wonderland and form my own opinion on it’s entertainment value or it’s potential harm to folks with mental illnesses.
If any of you do have DirecTV- or if any of you saw the first two Wonderland episodes nine years ago – feel free to chime in. Do you think the show is worth bringing back, or do you wish it’d stayed on the shelves? Did last night’s episode turn you into a fan, or will you not be tuning in next time?