Radha Mitchell’s quickening career

I have mixed feelings about this week’s news about Radha Mitchell’s upcoming TV show.

On the one hand, I have wanted to see Mitchell featured ever since I saw her in High Art.

Sure, the movie was depressing, but the relationship between Syd (Mitchell) and Lucy (Ally Sheedy) was, well, hot.

So initially, I loved the idea of Mitchell as LAPD detective Maggie Bird in an A&E series, The Quickening. And the show’s pedigree — it’s written by Jennifer Salt who produces Nip/Tuck — gives the promise that the series will be well done.

However, the premise presents a bit of a conflict for me. Here’s how the press release describes The Quickening:

Mitchell’s character faces the dilemma of having to choose between her meds and her profession. She’s a brilliant detective — so long as she doesn’t take the medicine that regulates her bipolar disorder.

That screech you heard was me, slamming on the brakes.

If you know anyone affected by bipolar disorder, you already know why. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, so I can’t speak to the physiological causes and effects of the illness. But I can tell you this: the myth that medication for bipolar disorder takes away creativity is not one that needs to be perpetuated.

Saying that is somewhat hypocritical, of course, since I love United States of Tara. In that show, Toni Colette plays a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder who decides to go off the medication that keeps her personalities united. The premise gave me pause, but Tara and her family understood the consequences of stopping her meds and are still struggling with whether those consequences are too great.

Perhaps The Quickening will deal with bipolar disorder realistically and show that just because Maggie believes she’s functioning well doesn’t mean she is. And perhaps the show will give equal weight to the depressive side of the illness that tends to stop functioning altogether.

I hope so, because not watching Radha would make me feel like a heel.

What do you think of The Quickening? Will you watch? Do TV shows make light of mental illness or do they help remove the stigma of such conditions?