As COVID-19 continues to ravage the U.S. and stay-at-home orders are being extended until further notice, I’ve had plenty of time to get bored and restless and full of ennui. Lately it’s taken the form of binge-watching TV until 3 or 4 in the morning, and what I watch is called Homeland. It’s a series about a CIA agent who just happens to have bipolar 1 disorder, but the spy shit is exciting too. I don’t normally like spy shit. But I am fascinated with this version of it.
As hard as it must be to act the part of a person with bipolar if you don’t have it, Claire Danes (the star of the series) pretty much gets it right. Her character’s depression looks amazingly like the real thing, and her portrayal of mania is amazing…even somewhat triggering. I recognize the pressured speech and over-the-top energy, and I can practically feel it flowing through me like an electrical current. But everything goes back to normal when I finally shut off the TV and go to bed, so I don’t worry about it. The show is THAT exciting!
I do have one complaint about “Carrie’s” use of medication, however. Her sister, who is a doctor, gives them to her, and the way she takes her meds is haphazard at best; all too often she’ll grab a bottle of pills, shake out a few and toss them in her mouth. That’s not how it works. Occasionally she’ll go off her meds entirely, with the inevitable bad outcomes. The first season, her condition is never named but it’s obviously not what you want to see in a high-profile CIA case officer, but by the middle of season 2 she’s in full-blown mania, lands in a psychiatric hospital, and loses her job. By some miracle she gets it back thanks to her mentor, Saul (Mandy Patinkin), and for awhile she’s faithful to her med regimen and doesn’t use them as PRNs. But eventually she goes off her meds again and this time he hangs her out to dry in front of God and everybody at a public hearing, and she is placed on administrative leave.
Never count Carrie out, though…soon she’s back in the saddle again and life returns to normal, whatever that is for someone who works 20-hour days. Right now I’m in the middle of season 3 and it’s getting more intriguing so it’s really hard for me to shut off the TV even after watching three or four episodes in a row. In fact, I’m going to watch a few more hours of it tonight if I don’t pass out on the sofa like a drunk and stumble to bed in the wee hours. Sometimes that happens and I miss the last 15 minutes, which annoys the hell out of me because I can’t figure out how to go back to previous episodes and catch up on what I missed. (I haven’t quite figured out Hulu just yet.) Naturally, I usually sleep till about 11 and get up around noon; I like to just lie in my recliner and enjoy the fact that while I’m in it, absolutely NOTHING hurts. Not my back, not my knees, not even my ex-broken ankle which still hurts seven months later. The family doesn’t get it, they’re all morning people (well, Shelley is, but the guys prefer a more casual approach to getting up), and they don’t know how I can stay awake practically all night and sleep so late into the day. But then I’ve NEVER been a morning person, and likely never will be. Especially when I have something interesting to do at night.