Call Me Crazy: A Five Film

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Call Me Crazy: A Five Film TV Poster Image
Intense short films challenge stigmas about mental illness.

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

It sends the message that mental illness is not a choice, but are sicknesses that are very real, and often have no cure. It reveals the difficulties that come from living with mental illness and/or with someone who has one, and highlights common misperceptions and stereotypes about mental illness and those who are mentally ill.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most people featured here are trying to be supportive in the best way they can; others are still working through feelings of resentment and other frustrations, which is presented as normal.

Violence

Several of the short films include conversations about suicidal acts and attempted murder as a result of suffering from a mental illness. One scene briefly depicts a violent sexual act against a woman. Scenes of people acting recklessly, putting people's lives in danger, and assaulting loved ones are also shown, but within the context of highlighting the kinds of behavior mental illness can prompt.

Sex

Contains references to having sex and conversations about "boobs."

Language

The word "s--t" is occasionally audible.

Consumerism

Hello Kitty, BMWs, Dodge Durango, and other logos occasionally visible.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The consumption of wine, beer, and hard liquor visible; sometimes people drink to cope with the illnesses they are dealing with. Conversations about taking medications to manage mental illness are frequent.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Call Me Crazy is a collection of five short films about coping with mental illness that delve into mature and serious topics including suicide, sexual assault, and more, offered in context of managing mental illness. Each film contains positive and compassionate messages about understanding mental diseases and the people who struggle with them. There is some strong language, drinking as a coping device, and prescription drug use is discussed. Parents may want to watch a few of the short films with their older teens to start conversations about mental illness.

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What's the story?

Executive produced by Jennifer Aniston, CALL ME CRAZY is an anthology of short dramatic films that take an intimate look at what it is like to live with mental illness. The short features, which are directed by Bryce Dallas Howard, Laura Dern, Sharon Maguire, Bonnie Hunt, and Ashley Judd, tell individual stories about what life is like for people who are psychotic, bipolar, clinically depressed, and/or struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder. From a teenage daughter (Sarah Hyland) taking care of her manic depressive mother (Melissa Leo), to a young mother (Jennifer Hudson) who is trying to get her son back after a violent PTSD-fueled episode against her father (Ernie Hudson), it offers insights into illnesses few people really understand, and does so from various points of view. Connecting these stories together in some way is Lucy (played by Brittany Snow), a twentysomething law student who is learning to live with schizophrenia. With the help of award-winning actors like Lea Thompson, Jean Smart, Octavia Spencer, Melanie Griffiths, and Chelsea Handler, each film reveals how family and friends of people who are mentally ill are touched by these diseases. It also highlights some common misperceptions about mental illness, the people who battle them, and the distinct challenges that they face when seeking medical care.

Is it any good?

Call Me Crazy offers a dramatic, sensitive, and occasionally witty look at what that day-to-day realities are like for people who have a mental illness. It underscores the unique and significant toll these illnesses take on people who are living with these diseases, as well as the folks who are closest to them. It also shows how misunderstandings about various mental illnesses, and common negative stereotypes about the mentally ill, keep folks from seeking help or continuing with a course of treatment.

Some issues, like not having enough insurance coverage for treatment, and the often-devastating side effects of some medications (which often makes patients resistant to taking them), aren't addressed in great detail. But these films succeed in showing viewers how difficult it is to live with these diseases, most of for which there is no cure. More importantly, it reminds us that having a mental illness is not a choice, but a difficult, misunderstood, and often devastating disease that people battle with every day.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about mental illness. Why are there so many misperceptions about mental illnesses and people who have them? What are some of the stereotypes and stigmas surrounding people who have a mental illness?

  • How have the mentally ill been portrayed in film and TV over the years? What impact have these representations had on the way society thinks about mental illness?

  • One out of five people in America suffer from a mental illness and/or disorder. Many of them don't get help. Why? Do you think films like the ones featured here will help people think differently about getting treatment? If you think someone you know needs help, who can you talk to for support?

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