Evaluation: Wakefield, ABC TV
From the comedy-drama of Josh Thomas’ Please Like Me, to the documentary collection Altering Minds filmed inside a psychiatric hospital, the ABC has a monitor file of collaborating with psychological well being organisations and folks with lived expertise to create compelling, compassionate tales about psychological well being.
Created by Kristen Dunphy and impressed by her personal experiences as a affected person, new collection Wakefield is a fictional drama thriller set in a psychiatric hospital within the Blue Mountains.
Wakefield presents a nuanced, multi-layered story about psychological well being by means of its ensemble forged. This eight-part collection demonstrates the benefits of tv’s long-form narrative over function movie. It gives higher scope to discover a variety of psychological well being tales with out resorting to caricatures and stereotypes.
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Characters on a spectrum of psychological well being
Wakefield’s first episode focuses on 4 characters: two sufferers and two employees members. Every is at a special stage of their psychological well being journey, from recognising their wants and in search of assist, to taking the primary steps in direction of restoration.
We first meet James (Dan Wyllie), wearing a go well with jacket and tie, speaking on the telephone along with his enterprise companions. The digital camera pulls again from a good closeup on James’ face to disclose he’s sporting pyjama pants – his workplace is definitely a room in a psychiatric hospital.
This visible conceit suggests a person desperately maintaining appearances and dwelling in denial of his psychological well being wants, which has led to him being hospitalised following an overdose. James is consistently negotiating with hospital employees for entry to his telephone and laptop computer, as he tries to maintain up the pretence of a person nonetheless in management.
We subsequent meet Ivy, a younger mom of a new child child, returning to the hospital from a stroll to the retailers. As performed by Megan Good, her anxiousness and concern about caring for this fragile new life are palpable.
By introducing James and Ivy doing on a regular basis actions, Wakefield challenges preconceived concepts concerning the spectacle of insanity. These characters don’t look unwell, however their struggles grow to be evident of their interactions with others.
Connecting these two characters is Nik (British actor Rudi Dharmalingam), a psychiatric nurse who responds to James’ calls for and Ivy’s anxiousness with care and compassion.
Nik is clearly good at his job. Within the first episode he deescalates a probably violent state of affairs utilizing a variety of methods (throwing and catching a ball, one-word solutions) to assist one other affected person Trevor (Harry Greenwood) relax and articulate his emotions.
Nik’s empathetic strategy to Wakefield’s sufferers is in stark distinction to the officious and socially awkward head nurse Linda (Mandy McElhinney). There are echoes of Nurse Ratched, the villain in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, in Linda’s characterisation and her adversarial relationship with Nik. This cliche is tempered by the revelation of her family state of affairs and the best way McElhinney conveys Linda’s desperation and vulnerability.
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Initially, Nik is introduced as a stabilising affect however he’s struggling along with his personal psychological well being. He can’t sleep and an 80s pop track is more and more intruding into his ideas.
Flashbacks to Nik’s childhood counsel a repressed trauma; the repeated picture of him standing perilously near a cliff edge implies suicidal ideas. His story reminds us psychological sickness doesn’t discriminate.
Complicated tales, actual and imagined
In Wakefield’s second episode we meet sufferers Genevieve (Harriet Dyer) and Tessa (Bessie Holland) and psychiatrist Dr Kareena Wells (Geraldine Hakewill) who’s combating anxiousness and emotions of guilt a couple of affected person’s loss of life.
This episode consists of the experiences of carers by means of Genevieve’s companion, Raff (Ryan Corr) and Tessa’s mom, Belle (Heather Mitchell). The variety of views is emphasised by repeating key scenes shot from completely different digital camera angles, which current one other character’s perspective on the identical occasion.
Wakefield’s a number of tales of psychological well being points are advised by means of a mixture of realist and non-realist strategies, together with vibrant musical efficiency numbers that put the viewer contained in the character’s thoughts, displaying the world as they understand it.
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Wakefield credit Dr Mark Cross, who featured in Altering Minds, as marketing consultant psychiatrist. A number of psychological well being organisations are additionally acknowledged, together with Mindframe, Headspace, Lifeline, Black Canine Institute, Past Blue, Thoughts Australia and SANE Australia.
It’s encouraging to see Australian display producers collaborating with psychological well being consultants to create genuine tales about psychological well being points. This experience encompasses many voices.
With Wakefield, Kristen Dunphy has dropped at the display a fictional story impressed by her personal expertise as a affected person and realised by her creativity as a screenwriter and showrunner. The result’s an unique and complicated portrayal of psychological well being.
Wakefield is out there now for streaming on iView and premieres on ABC TV on April 18.
If this text has raised points for you, or for those who’re involved about somebody , please name Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Past Blue on 1300 22 4636. If life is in peril, telephone 000.
Fincina Hopgood is engaged in ongoing unpaid analysis collaborations with SANE Australia, together with PhD mission supervision and membership of the Professional Reference Group for the Nationwide Stigma Report Card mission.