Screenshot from Accused on Fox trailer 01.22.23

Just Because A Television Show Airs, Should We Watch It?

Mental Health and network television portrayals

Amy Sterling Casil
9 min readJan 23, 2023

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I seldom watch network television, and I only watched Fox’s new show Accused last night because it was on after the San Francisco 49ers/Dallas Cowboys’ NFL playoff game.

This new anthology show, based on a 2010 UK series, was heavily advertised during the game. I saw that it starred good performers, so when the game ended, the marketers got their wish: I started watching.

I could make fun of Michael Chiklis’ portrayal, as was my first inclination, because he plays an accused father, Scott Corbett, in such a repressed way that the only moving parts in a closeup are his eyes and thin, pale lips. But Chiklis clearly delivered a performance to the best of his ability and is a great actor. And: he didn’t write the script. However, I have just seen: he is one of the credited directors, so dude … seriously …

I don’t want to talk badly about Hollywood screenwriters because I walked in the Writers’ Strike in 2007 and I know they’re far from all oatmeal-brained racist, misogynistic, hamfisted assholes. And I think the writers on Accused, whom I do not know and have not looked up, probably think they are very well-meaning present-day versions of socially-aware 50s screenwriters like Rod Serling, Billy Wilder, and Paddy Chayevsky.

Their feelings may be “well-meaning” but the result they achieved is anything but well-meaning for those with mental illness, families struggling with oppositional teens, and — most of all — for anyone who has been affected by the never-ending, ever-escalating school and workplace shootings. While this show was being aired, a 72-year-old man entered a dance hall in Monterey Park, CA and shot ten people dead, wounding ten others.

The marketing for Accused says “Ripped from today’s headlines!” They used to say that when I was a kid. This has been a common marketing phrase for this type of entertainment for years. It seems to signify more slow-paced unrealism, as opposed to fast-paced, nonstop unrealism. Accused’s ads alternated with ones for a Texas firefighting show starring Rob Lowe. This show’s upcoming episode seemed to be about the attack of a giant Texas twister at an amusement park. One of the highlights…

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Amy Sterling Casil

Over 500 million views and 5 million published words, top writer in health and social media. Author of 50 books, former exec, Nebula nominee.