Did ABC's Black Box Get Inside Your Head?

Black Box Series Premiere Recap“I study extraordinary brains so I can understand normal ones,” Dr. Catherine “Kate” Black says early in the premiere of ABC’s midseason drama Black Box – and the doc knows intimately of what she speaks.

Black, played by British actress Kelly Reilly, is a neurologist/neuroscientist respected for her top-level work in the field. But she’s also bipolar, a condition she regulates with medication — when/if she takes it — and hides from her co-workers and significant other, Will (David Ajala, Fast & Furious 6).

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In a moment or two, you’ll have a chance to let us know what you thought about the new drama’s premiere. But first, a quick recap:

We meet Kate as she’s explaining a recent manic episode to her psychiatrist Dr. Hartramph (played by Vanessa Redgrave, Call the Midwife). The break, during which she had sex with a random sketchy dude and nearly tumbled off her hotel room’s balcony during a business trip, felt like “a freaking rocket ride,” Kate tells Hartramph… who points out that the ride ended with a crash, and that “normal” doesn’t necessarily mean “boring.”

“Do you want to be exceptional and dead?” the wise doc queries.

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Back on her pills, Kate returns to her clinic and solves two cases: an elderly woman with dementia who hallucinates a friendly elf and a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-bound teen who suddenly can’t stop drawing on the walls.

The sad old woman turns out to be better with her invisible pal; the adolescent is returned to his regular life by the removal of a tricky brain tumor, a surgery performed by the clinic’s smarmy new chief of neurosurgery, Ian “Bick” Bickman (Spartacus: War of the Damned‘s Ditch Davey).

Meanwhile, Will’s proposal triggers memories of Kate’s mother, who also was bipolar and drowned herself when Kate was 7. So Kate flushes all of her meds one night and then goes on a manic tear that includes boffing Bick and hurling her engagement ring at her flummoxed fiancé. She winds up in the ER in wrist restraints with her worried brother Joshua (David Chisum, One Life to Live) by her side.

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We later learn that Joshua and his tightly wound wife Regan (Breaking Bad‘s Laura Fraser) are raising Kate’s daughter Esme as their own… which might have been more of a shocker if it hadn’t been the exact same plot twist NBC’s Crisis revealed at a similar point in its own premiere.

When Regan forbids Esme from hanging out with her unstable “aunt,” Kate makes tracks to the beach and calls Hartramph’s emergency line, asking for a reason not to stuff her pockets with stones and trudge into the deep.

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“Your work is waiting,” Hartramph replies, and that’s good enough reason for Kate to pull it together and re-start her meds. After all, as she tells a patient, the brain is the ultimate mystery — “that’s why doctors call it the black box” — and she’s got plenty to do.

The father of series creator/executive producer Amy Holden Jones (Mystic Pizza) was a bipolar physician, which gives me hope that Kate’s plight will be handled with grace. That said, there were moments in the premiere that were very reminiscent of NBC’s campy — and quickly cancelled — Jekyll & Hyde takeoff Do No Harm. Future episodes, like Kate on that balcony railing, are going to have to step very carefully.

What did you think of Black Box? Grade the premiere via the poll below, then back up your choice in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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98 Comments
  1. Fernando says:

    Yes this show was insane but it was good insane. I only watched to make fun of it but invested in it instead. I hope it can say crazy like it was tonight.

  2. MattArmando says:

    It was solid… Gave it a B. Was NOT as bad as most have proclaimed.

    However, I think it could’ve been taken in a whole different route, a more compelling & suspenseful one at that. It’s worthy to stick with, interesting enough to invest in–especially some of the weekly medical cases.

    • CP in NJ says:

      This has potential (I’ve only seen the pilot thus far). Kelly Reilly can be compelling and the script was OK with potential to be better. BUT: My fear is that it is on ABC, which in recent years tends to dumb down shows and become too cutesy, will drag this in that direction. It needs quality writing and directing and needs to avoid the descent into unreality that (to cite two) Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal have slid into. All that said, I wish the show luck and will give it a few more episodes to see if it sustains or falls.

      • arlene says:

        i think it’s great. of course, i’m 72 and an intelligent woman, but advertisers appeal to the 18-39 crowd. so many great shows have been canceled because of this. i’m sorry but i don’t want to watch stupid shows like “the kardashians”. thank goodness for re-runs of Law & Order so i have something to watch when great shows are canceled.

  3. Antwon says:

    Um, what the hell was that? Weak plot + mediocre writing + scenery chewing = quick cancellation! I give it three episodes before it gets yanked.

  4. blush says:

    too much crazytown for me – – I think I was expecting too much. I wish Scandal was still on.

  5. uh huh says:

    Didn’t really connect with the lead actress. Pass.

  6. jenna says:

    theres no way the show could live up to the hype the promos were giving

  7. D says:

    Was this a comedy or drama? Bc no.

  8. Lara says:

    It was so bad. Too much for the first episode. I would rather watch reruns of Scandal.

  9. webly3 says:

    B. An accurate representation of people with mental illness. However, it’s kind of just hard to watch knowing that there are people who go this insane in real life too.

  10. Aleana says:

    Just finish watching gave it a B I’ll watch again but I’ll be dvr the show because can’t miss Vikings

  11. I loved the show. As someone who suffers from mental illness I related to pretty much everything that occurred in this episode. I also said this on twitter but I’ll say it here too…there were a ton of great quotable lines from this pilot episode. I hope people will give it a chance.

    • Joanna says:

      I totally agree. It was so relatable it even made me cry. Unfortunately it seems that people without mentall illness don’t see the value in it.

      • bikermo says:

        i cried almost the entire episode. everything resonated with me, albeit to lesser extremes than the main character. i really loved it and i hope it sticks around, but i don’t think it’ll be popular enough and will be another show with great potential that gets yanked too soon.

  12. Alison says:

    I just didn’t relate to the leads, or most of the characters except for Vanessa Redgrave as the therapist. Also, meds do not work like on/off switches (they actually take weeks to work and to stop working). Even the cases weren’t exciting enough to draw me in. The music was horrible too. I was interested in the concept, but I think I’ll pass on the rest of the episodes. Bring back Rookie Blue earlier than June!

    • I agree – the whole hour I kept thinking about how much I missed Scandal. This show tries to hard to be fast paced to match the energy of Scandal, but doesn’t have the writing or character development yet to make it work. Also very unrealistic and/or dangerous depictions of med usage. It takes weeks if not months for some meds to work. One cannot go on a manic episode after flushing all her meds, then have a moment of clarity and suddenly have more pills available and take once more and be back to “normal”.

      • shannon says:

        No, not all meds work quickly but as a person suffering with major depressive disorder and extreme anxiety disorder with hysteria, when i was put on my newest med i felt better, well more human, within 36 hours. Thats beautiful. And now missing one dose hurts and going right bavk on instantly cures. The meds are light years beyond where they used to be. I didnt watch the whole show, as it felt like my life was being mocked, but im in a crisis right now. The med part…not odd.

    • Jennifer says:

      As someone who has lived with “mental illness” my whole life, I can relate to this show. I have been on meds for 20 years and if I miss my morning does, I can feel it almost immediately and I feel like I am going crazy. As the day goes on it continues to get worse and by day two off meds I am a mess. For me personally, I don’t enjoy being off my meds so I am very careful about taking them regularly. But for anyone who says that going off meds can’t have an immediate effect, I can tell you first hand, it absolutely does.

  13. Ron says:

    Maybe it wasn’t a complete fail (though pretty close), but definitely below Vanessa Redgrave.

  14. Sara says:

    Honestly couldn’t stand it. The only character I could stomach was Will (?), her boyfriend. I think for me, a big part of it was the writing. It was incredibly week. I also couldn’t stand the main actress. There was just something about her that wasn’t at all likeable.

  15. Robby Horine says:

    Gave it a ‘b’. Will watch next week. It did have a few weak spots. But for a pilot, it was well worth a hour of my time. Maybe not a survivor to fall, but a good addition to summer series like Rookie Blue, Motive and Mistresses.

  16. Mary says:

    I enjoyed Vanessa Redgrave. The rest was a little too jumpy for me, and I found most of the actors to be wooden and lacked chemistry.

  17. Et al. says:

    Another Paul Lee disaster.

  18. johnhelvete says:

    The stuff with Esme and her brother worked for me, the rest of the show did not. Might have been a similar plot twist to Crisis, but the chance that the daughter/niece could end up being bipolar made the scene between them talking about Kate’s mom suicide even more poignant. Really liked the actor playing the BF but sorta of ruined the character at the end when he essentially made it clear he was thrilled to have crazy kinky sex with her and wanted to do more in the future.

  19. Apples says:

    I made it to around the 20-minute mark before I quit watching. Shame, because I love Kelly Reilly (have done since Russian Dolls, a movie she was in), but the writing for this show is trainwreck bad.

    • Mitchell says:

      Simply put, I wouldn’t even bother listening to half of these reviews seeing as they can’t even use proper grammar nor can they even spell simple words. Either way, this show was phenomenal! Keek it up!

      • Karma says:

        “Keek” it up? Having trouble with those simple words Mitchell?

      • You do realize that improper grammar doesn’t just automatically render an opinion invalid, right? I mean, by that logic, your opinion should be held in the highest regard for the simple fact that you can put words and sentences together. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but dismissing some outright because of spelling or grammatical errors (and feeling the need to call attention to them) is also an open invitation not to be taken seriously. I would say that expressing criticism and providing actual examples to illustrate a point is far more constructive.

      • chistosa says:

        @Mitchell For one who is so concerned about proper grammar and sentence mechanics, you should be more careful when you post. Word error aside (Keek rather than keep), you are not “listening” to any opinion. You are reading and interpreting it. “Seeing as they can’t even use proper gramma…..” is a good example of a poorly written sentence. The antecedent of they is “these reviews” but reviews case. Sorry Mitchell but this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. By the way, your opinion about the show is as valid with your errors as an opinion expressed with no errors.

        • chistosa says:

          oops, reviews cannot write themselves. Reviewers write them. See Mitchell, an error I made. We all make them but it does not invalidate the point.

  20. greysfan says:

    It was solid and i gave it a B but i don’t know. It seemed to take a while and had weak spots but it was watchable at least. I’ll give it another episode as it was only the pilot but 50/50 on this one.

  21. n says:

    Naming a character “Hartramph” is like naming her “Harrumph.”

  22. Doug says:

    Could they have hired an uglier actress? The promos for this completely turned me off. That is not a good sign.

  23. bj says:

    I’m a Ditch Davey fan so I really wanted to like this one, but it was a fail for me. I get that they wanted to show her being manic, but she wouldn’t just dump her pills and go instantly beserk. And they seem to be pushing the sexual aspect of the show. They even have the doctor, who believes in control, not feelings, bopping nurses in the storage room. And then the boyfriend with the “I liked it” at the end! Sorry. Too much for me.

    I did watch the whole episode, because Ditch was in it. That’s more than I did for Do No Harm.

    And I also didn’t like the female lead. She kept getting this sneaky, almost evil look on her face that turned me off. It definitely didn’t make me feel any sympathy for her.

  24. sarah says:

    I was interested in the show from the previews.
    However I changed the channel after the first commercial break!

  25. Mel says:

    The problem for me is that if you’re going to go that heavy on the crazy, you need to balance it out with some empathy. But I couldn’t feel any empathy for the main character, who was rather unlikeable. Too bad, because I do like the actress. I love the bi-polar character Claire Danes plays in Homeland, but the key there is that the character is made more human and garners some empathy. I think their mistake was in focusing so heavily on the fact that Kate was bi-polar, and completely forgetting the rest. She lacks any humanity, and fails to engage me.

  26. I got lost just via the Promos ,
    Plus been trying to watch Grey but its so badly written and acted thats its unwatchable , I mean I get that the show is a vehicle for Black actors, writers , producers , etc , but its a shame they don’t just hire people who have mastered their craft

    • Ana says:

      so you think the bad writing in Greys has to do with the POC casting in the show. And when has Greys been a vehicle for black actors, writers or producers? are you just making this stuff up?

  27. Valerie says:

    I didn’t think I would like this show but I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t expect the twist with the niece. The only thing I hated was the jazzy music. It didn’t really work for me. Plus I hate all kinds of jazz music with a passion. I’m hoping because this was the pilot that the music changes in the next episode. It probably won’t so I’m going to try and keep watching and try to block out the music.

  28. Sandrine says:

    The main character’s bipolar disorder is heartbreaking. It’s almost too painful to watch. I’m not sure if I’ll still watch future episodes. The subject is too hard for me.

    • kath says:

      It was too painful to watch for me too. But that’s because it was so badly done, and so much misinformation was spread.

  29. GhostWolf says:

    Not impressed (plus the trend continues of Brits hiding their accents for a US role). Will was the most likeable character but in the end he began an enabler for Kate (saying he liked her behavior in bed and would do it again). Plus, Bick was smarmy alright and unlikeable. Won’t be watching (will be sticking with Elementary – which was good last night as usual).

  30. Sarahliz says:

    Horrible stigmatization of mental illness. Very few people with bipolar disorder have episodes like this and it’s oh so convenient that her self induced mania ends just in time for her to go to work in the morning. People who are non- compliant with meds are usually unable to function, especially if they send themselves into a mania that is so high it also features hallucinations. A mania like that would last weeks if not longer. And going back on your meds, it can take days if not a week or longer for them to build back up in your system, it doesn’t happen overnight. Just reading some of the comments here my suspicions were right that this show would be a horrendous setback in c

    • Sarahliz says:

      Continuing the stereotype of bipolar people being “crazy” and “dangerous”. We don’t hallucinate (usually) and a doctor who lost her mother to suicide would know better than to go off her meds, because there are horrible consequences. But of course we don’t see that, all we see is pretty colors, hear pretty music, and see her dancing around like a stoner on an awesome trip. Mania isn’t like tht and neither is bipolar disorder. There is nothing enjoyable about it. You want an accurate representation? Watch Homeland. I hope for the sake of all bipolar patients like myself that this gets cancelled, because we’re the ones who will have to deal with the repurcussions of the ideas a show like this perpetuates.

  31. Tammy says:

    I have a son who is bipolar and did not like the way they portrayed them. I agree with commentator you don’t throw ur mess away and right away u are in a manic episode. Once you are on mess u can live happy productive lives. Then the fiancé liking the rough se was to much. He didn’t even care that she get back on her mess. Just felt this did a disservice to all those with bipolar.

  32. Charlie Ross says:

    I am a (64-yr-old) person who has lived with Bipolar Disorder Type 2, which is bipolar with milder episodes of mania, not nearly as severe as the character of Dr. Black. I am also an advocate for people living with mental illness and a student of mental illness and the brain.

    I just wanted you to know that the character of Dr. Black, as portrayed in this show, is not over the top. Indeed, I believe that the character is based in large part on the life of a real person named, well, without her permission I should not put her name here. If you are a serious person, you can do just a little research and find out to whom I refer. Then, you can check out the books she has written and her credentials for yourself. If she is not the model for this character, she certainly could have been.

    In my mind, this is the most accurate portrayal of severe mental illness I have ever seen on TV or in movies with the single exception of A Beautiful Mind.

    I am very concerned that negative public reviews by people who do not understand mental illness will lead to the cancellation of this show. That would be a tragedy since this is the first real opportunity for the public to learn about the nature of mental illness. Public understanding is essential to create the support that is needed to bring about the radical improvements needed in our mental health “system.” And that effects us all, profoundly.

    • kath says:

      There are shows that portray mental illness realistically and effectively. Homeland does it with bipolar illness; Perception with schizophrenia.

      This show gives entirely the wrong impression of a mental illness. Everything is over-the-top and there are no realistic consequences. When Catherine made the decision to take a patient off her meds because she herself was going manic, making doe eyes at the nurse as if she needed his permission, she should have had her medical license suspended or at least only been allowed to work supervised. The sister-in-law is presented as vindictive for keeping Catherine from Esme when it should have been to protect a vulnerable Esme from the outlandish decisions Catherine was making. Even something as small as the psychiatrist taking Esme’s call in the middle of a session with another patient gives people a distorted view of treatment.

      This show should be cancelled because it spreads so much wrong information about mental illness. If ABC wants to hook BPAD as a hook for a show, they should do it properly. People need to know what it’s like to have a mental illness or to live with someone who does, not have it be sensationally misrepresented for shock value.

      • kath says:

        I meant to say “The psychiatrist taking Catherine’s call in the middle of a session.”

        If Catherine is so unstable that her psychiatrist needs to be interrupted to deal with her, in real life the police would be sent out and Catherine hospitalized as a danger to herself or others.

        • bikermo says:

          have you ever actually had to deal with a person who should have been hospitalized for their own good? because it’s not that simple. i had a friend whose girlfriend flipped out on him and started smacking him, punching him, kicking him, punching holes in his walls, then grabbed a knife and threatened to kill herself, and he did NOTHING back, knowing it would only be bad for him. instead he called the police, a medical professional interviewed her for an hour, and released her because she was not a threat to herself or anyone else. we’d like to believe the world works a certain way but it does not. the touchy-feely “we can’t infringe on a person’s civil liberties” people made it almost impossible to lock someone like this up for their own safety. especially when that person has enough wherewithal to promise that they know it was wrong and it scared people and they’ll never do it again.

    • bikermo says:

      unfortunately, like the disorder itself, viewers are too polarized. you have people saying it doesn’t portray “real” people with bipolar disorder, others who can completely relate to it because they have real experience with similar behavior, and those crying foul because they think it should be more like a documentary than entertainment and can’t figure out how suspension of disbelief works. even worse are those who were too disturbed or upset to watch again, i think that is key to the problem: you can’t fix a problem by turning away from it. i applaud any show willing to tackle a social issue as tough as mental illness, and i think it’s a sad statement on society that we have to explain to some that no, you don’t automatically go into a hyper-sexual, manic episode the morning after you flushed your meds and you aren’t fixed as soon as you pop a fresh one in your mouth. the show would have to be three hours long five nights a week for a truer representation.

      and off the subject of your comment, Charlie, but people have completely misinterpreted what the boyfriend was trying to do at the end- he wasn’t saying “i love kinky, manic sex!” he was saying “i love YOU and i accept every aspect of you, even what most people would call the uglier side.” having been left more times than i’d care to recount after the SO saw that uglier side, that was potentially the most poignant moment of the show for me.

  33. Norkir says:

    I haven’t decided if I’ll keep watching yet! Some things were a little hard to watch but I have a week to make up my mind.

  34. Shaun says:

    What is it with ABC and bipolar disorder? First Mind Games, and now this. Do they have to give every character a mental illness? At least in Homeland, Carrie’s bipolar disorder isn’t the main point of Homeland.

  35. kath says:

    This show was truly horrible. I wanted to like it for Vanessa Redgrave’s sake but I was done after 10 minutes.

    Bad science, bad plots, characters doing really stupid things without reason. Whoever put this show together should be fined for spreading misinformation about mental illness.

  36. Ann says:

    It was horrible! I’m wondering how many episodes will run before it’s canceled.

  37. Melissa says:

    What was up with the 40s PI movie music and “breathy” voice that the main character took on at times? Watching too many black & white movies in her spare time? Is Marilyn Monroe her idol? Also, her dialog and accent were stilted like she was trying to force the words out right. Maybe that’s her way of covering her own accent, but I found it annoying. Was anyone else surprised that the kid was hers? I knew in the first scene of them together. All in all, I don’t expect it to be around long, but then, it’s usually the shows I do like that get pulled so who knows. Whether it hangs in or not, it will be without me.

  38. Jeannette Jaskowski says:

    Unfortunately this show glamorized the life of a person suffering with bipolar disorder. We don’t become sex fiends the minute we stop taking our Meds.
    This was more like an after school special for adults… Mixed with a PSA about bipolar disorder.

    • john says:

      yes it is very glamorous that when she gets off her meds she almost kills herself, ruins every single one of her relationships, and wakes up to a mess that she has no idea how to clean up. Let me just say as a man suffering from several different mental illnesses: This show is as realistic as it gets, whether you want to believe it or not. It’s the cold, harsh, and bleak, truth about the life of people like me who suffer from this disease. It is also a TV show and cannot possibly bear to be medically logical in a 45 minute time slot but it gets the job done in such a magical, entertaining, and VERY personal way. I loved every second of it. I think if others with mental disorders watched it it could really help them not feel completely alone. Understand that there are others like them that suffer from the same things that society wants to label as “too much” or “just too damn sad to deal with”. On Catherine’s behavior, one should realize there is not just 1 type of bipolar disorder. Mental Illnesses greatly fluctuate from person to person. This is why it is such a long process to treat; to find that one specific combination of medicine and scheduling that suits that individual. So to say that Catherine’s behavior is so “illogical & unrealistic” and that it is further stigmatizing mental illness is actually more offensive and down right stupid than you think. If anyone is further stigmatizing mental illnesses it’s people who say and think things like that. “Illogical and unrealistic” can translate publicly into “he’s/she’s just doing it for attention & it’s all in their head”. If you truly do suffer from a mental illness and didn’t feel connected to the show, then you didn’t feel connected to the show. But I highly advise watching a few more episodes on a clear and objective mind and then see if your opinion changes. The show was and is an A++. I hope those who liked it and personalized themselves with it can repel it’s possible cancellation by spreading the word. Those who do not suffer from mental illness, which is a vast majority of ABC’S TV audience, probably won’t get it. It was very risky for ABC to put this out there on their network and I applaud them for that. But if us fans band together we can give this show the chance it deserves to reach more homes and let those suffering from mental illness know that they are NOT alone. This show is real. It is entertaining. And it is one of my personal favorites that I hope sticks around for a VERY long time.

      • LaLonnie says:

        Thank you, I could not have said it better myself. I too, am bipolar, so is my daughter in law and 7 year old grandson. Praise Jesus she knows the symptoms all to well so my grandson did not have to suffer for years waiting for someone to diagnose him correctly. My daughter in law has leveled out with medication but she suffered terribly before they hit on a good med combo. I myself denied my diagnosis for years. It took a physcotic break for me to admit my Dr. Had been right all along. I love the show and hope it stays on because it is both educational and comforting. My husband said it wasn’t really his forte, but when I told him how I felt about what he could learn from it and how it could strengthen our marriage he agreed to watch it with me just so he would know. :)

  39. cahow says:

    I was SO captivated by it, I’ve since watched it three times since it aired because the initial viewing I was gobsmacked by the “Are they airing these scenes on NETWORK TV?” I haven’t seen the other shows referenced in this recap so the “reveals” were shockers to me. My own Mum was bi-polar (skipped me, thank God!) and several friends of mine have also suffered from this disease so I’m extremely interested in a show that features someone with this disorder. It will be very, very interesting to see HOW they portray the disease and if people unfamiliar with it will gain compassion for the chaos that it creates in it’s owner and those that love them. But, for the first airing, I’m completely Sold on it!

  40. Robert says:

    The worst show I ever seen in my life.Bipolar is nothing like this.To sensationalize it is a disservice to all of us with mental illness.Shame on you ABC.

  41. Kim Felt says:

    Why must we (who are forced to endure bi-polar and other serious mental disorders) have our integrity further insulted by another misrepresentation of an important mental disorder? It does the public no service to imply that bi-polar disorder proves one to be insane, a serial killer, rapist, etc. It would be refreshing, for once, to show that we can be professional productive members of society while coping with our mental challenges. Look it up…Robin Williams, William Shakespeare, and many, many famous artists, politicians, and many more famous and/or productive folks who suffered in silence yet enriched our lives unspeakably.

  42. sarajo says:

    I HAVE bipolar disorder (I am NOT bipolar any more than someone IS cancer or IS arthritis). This show perpetuates the stigma and misconception of bipolar disorder and all mental illness. Many people are high functioning even when not medicated as their are different degrees and manifestations of the disorder. Especially disturbing is the idea that one flushes their medication and immediately becomes a psychotic manic lunatic. Nor does one suddenly become “normal” because of a conversation. Bipolar is a chronic progressive condition. It is also manageable if one takes the proper medication and accepts responsibility for their own mental health. People who don’t comply with treatment often stop taking their meds and eventually return state of hypomania, mania or depression. This depiction is totally unrealistic and does a great disservice to those who cope with this disorder every day.

  43. notyourmama says:

    The medical aspect of the show is just stupid. As soon as she decides to flush her meds, she is immediately full on out of her mind, then the next day when she decides to take them again, she’s fine, immediately. The worst part of the show, though, is the way the lead actress holds her mouth in an obvious attempt to cover an accent. The way she moves her mouth causes her to look drunk in every scene. If she were my doctor I’d leave the office. This show is unwatchable.

  44. jake says:

    Omg people for f@ck sake it was a pilot, if you are disregarding a show after one episode. STOP WATCHING TV

    • cahow says:

      Ha-Ha, Jake! I’m right with you on that count! If I dropped every.single.show. that I’ve watched based on the pilot alone, there’d be no need for a TV in our home.

      What’s been so interesting in reading the comments about this show, is that it mirrors the differing degrees of Bi-Polar disorder so well. Some people that have it or know someone who has had it state, “This show is a liar!” while others who have it or know someone who has had it say, “It’s bang on!” I fall into the latter catagory. My mum (born 1910) had undiagnosed Bi-Polar disorder and it only got worse with her age. Back in those days and living in a very rural area of Montana, you were only a) Normal; b) Kinda Normal, or c) Bat-sh1t Crazy…no one EVER thought of someone odd having a mental disorder.

      As an only child, living alone with my mum while my dad worked the nearby ranches, I had to watch her slow decline into danger with my own eyes. Try being 8 years old, being woken up at 1:30 am in the morning on a school night by your mother, and being bundled up for an hour drive to a truck stop for waffles! Or, the endless parade of “friends” that my mum would entertain when my dad was off on a cattle run. Or, you mum locking herself into any room possible and not coming out for days as she talked/screamed to herself…and you’re a little kid, by themselves, wondering what YOU did to make your mum so mad at you!

      That’s my background so this TV series rings true to what I’m watching and what I lived. I respect those posters that say this is exaggerated but please respect my past that I had to live with every day, growing up alone.

  45. john says:

    yes it is very glamorous that when she gets off her meds she almost kills herself, ruins every single one of her relationships, and wakes up to a mess that she has no idea how to clean up. Let me just say as a man suffering from several different mental illnesses: This show is as realistic as it gets, whether you want to believe it or not. It’s the cold, harsh, and bleak, truth about the life of people like me who suffer from this disease. It is also a TV show and cannot possibly bear to be medically logical in a 45 minute time slot but it gets the job done in such a magical, entertaining, and VERY personal way. I loved every second of it. I think if others with mental disorders watched it it could really help them not feel completely alone. Understand that there are others like them that suffer from the same things that society wants to label as “too much” or “just too damn sad to deal with”. On Catherine’s behavior, one should realize there is not just 1 type of bipolar disorder. Mental Illnesses greatly fluctuate from person to person. This is why it is such a long process to treat; to find that one specific combination of medicine and scheduling that suits that individual. So to say that Catherine’s behavior is so “illogical & unrealistic” and that it is further stigmatizing mental illness is actually more offensive and down right stupid than you think. If anyone is further stigmatizing mental illnesses it’s people who say and think things like that. “Illogical and unrealistic” can translate publicly into “he’s/she’s just doing it for attention & it’s all in their head”. If you truly do suffer from a mental illness and didn’t feel connected to the show, then you didn’t feel connected to the show. But I highly advise watching a few more episodes on a clear and objective mind and then see if your opinion changes. The show was and is an A++. I hope those who liked it and personalized themselves with it can repel it’s possible cancellation by spreading the word. Those who do not suffer from mental illness, which is a vast majority of ABC’S TV audience, probably won’t get it. It was very risky for ABC to put this out there on their network and I applaud them for that. But if us fans band together we can give this show the chance it deserves to reach more homes and let those suffering from mental illness know that they are NOT alone. This show is real. It is entertaining. And it is one of my personal favorites that I hope sticks around for a VERY long time.

  46. gabberz says:

    I think to judge this show based on wether or not it’s portrayal of mental illness was good or bad oversimplifies the many ways this show failed me. I WANT to suspend my belief but cannot do so when there is no character development. Instead, everyone is a caricature of themselves. This played out more like a parody of the genre with over the top plot lines and predictably laughable plot twists. I love a campy melodrama when it knows what it is and doesn’t try to be a grounded, insightful, ground breaking new medical drama. I watched the first two episodes hoping it would fulfill it’s promise to provoke, enlighten, inspire and transport me. A mentally ill family member attacked me during a hypomanic episode and gave me a traumatic head and spinal cord injury which developed into a chronic and debilitating neurological disorder. I have friends with bi-polar disorder who I could see in the IDEA of who this Dr is. Considering she is based on a true person, I would hope she would be rooted in truthfulness. But my family member does not remind me of her. I don’t care because the show was just so one dimensional that it left me wanting more on every level. I was so deeply disappointed this made it to the air without being re-worked in a way that brought depth to the characters and a plot that was shown to us, not forced upon us via campy dialogue. Give me an emotionally insightful drama that raises the stakes in an intelligent way. If ABC had been able to, I think we’d all agree that a show like this was exciting to see. But cheesy, campy melodrama is not what they are selling…so they missed the mark as far as I am concerned. Treat us as an intelligent audience who are ready for a painfully realistic mentally ill, brilliant female neurosurgeon lead by giving us better writing, direction, cinematography and overall production quality. We yelled at the screen, rolled our eyes constantly, shrieked, “what?!” non stop and felt starved for a show that knows how to do it all. We watched a couple episodes of “Nurse Jackie” afterwards. A show with it all and one I find consistently makes me think, “bravo! Acting, writing, direction, production; imperfect characters struggling with issues dealing with family even addiction, and bam! They nailed it again!” I know it’s a different fenre and don’t imply they should reflect each other in plotlines or story developement but it simply shows what I feel “Black Box” is lacking is not too much to ask for. Even “House” had deeper character development and way better handling of unrealistic medical mysteries, rooted in reality but heightened for a tv plot. It can be done so much better here!! “Scandal” is based on a real woman but it doesn’t mean I expect it to give me real stories. Even though the main character has bipolar disorder, her struggles should be conveyed with the proper chracter development so I can go on the journey with her. This would humanize mental illness and help to see the humanity connecting us. But failing this for her and every other character is alienating and frustrating. Every character had only one dimension even Catherine!! Even though she is suffering and struggling I wanted her to triumph and try. But there was only an outline of a real person not the heart and soul. I wanted her devoted boyfriend to feel confusion and fear yet his devotion and intelligence keep propelling his journey of proving he was in it for keeps for the good and the bad. The smarmy surgeon who is all logic and ego… I wanted him to be her opposite with whom sparks fly, but instead, I felt he was a misogynist, a “good ol boy”, who shows no respect for women and even that if your a hot, sexy surgeon “no” never means “no” especially when hopped up on prescription stimulants. The sister in law was jealous, shrewish and disrespected by everyone, including her husband. Her relationship with Esme seemed disconnected and overbearing. When she should be shown as a person so deeply interconnected with every family member who always has to walk a fine line of protecting their daughter and their secret. Her character could be heart wrenchingly relatable to friends and family members of mentally ill people. And the brother, showing such little regard for her while enabling his sister’s self destruction was just as one dimensional as the others. I got it. Catherine Black is a brilliant Dr and her battle with mental illness could make a powerful drama. I could see what they were trying to achieve with this show but then again how could I not? They left nothing to the imagination with no subtlety whatsoever. It was an insult to my intelligence. I was looking forward to it and I gave it more than one try. But if she goes off her meds every episode, has random sex, cheats on her loving bf, hurts her daughter, fights with her sister in law and leans on her brother finds then finds redemption with her psychiatrist without showing me that her experience really takes her anywhere deep while saying it is the whole time… I will find myself unable to bear it again. Don’t go through the motions but give me writing, lighting and directing that supports her passionate, intelligent character living her larger than life life. I want sustenance not saccharin.

  47. tina says:

    this shows so annoying omggggg, even the commercials bug me

  48. Joan Lengle says:

    Hit the nail right on the head! Love, love, love it! Finally a glimpse into the mind of a person who suffers with this disorder! America needs to see this so they can become more aware of, and have more compassion for people with this. As a person who went through a phase of this earlier in life, it was a very accurate portrail. Interestingly enough, after having chemo therapy (for stage four breast cancer) I was able to get off all meds. And never suffered from these drastic mood swing again! I think this could possibly be a medical breakthrough and would be an interesting story line for your show! I’ve been recording all the episodes, however due to the so. C.A. fires, the third episode was not shown! Could you please show this episode again so that I can see and record it? Please keep this amazing sho going, America needs to be educated on this sensitive subject! Thanks! The actors are perfect!

  49. Abby says:

    I appreciate the way the show moves and how well Black portrays the mania that is Bipolar. I am a person with bipolar disorder and the chaos that ensues in your mind when your manic periods arise feel the way the show is written… Sounds weird yes, but your brain feels like a train that is going way too fast, is way too loud, and you feed off that energy until you just cannot stop… And then it stops and everything falls apart! The intensity of feeling sexy and the pressure to keep it all hidden, but it’s nothing but exploding out of you… This show is an honest portrayal of how the mind works in rapid cycle of bipolar. I am excited to watch more of it because the fast pace of the writing, the quick transitions, and the grandiose character that she is, I feel, is hilariously honest for those of us with this disorder… It’s also a plus to see it portrayed as something other than a handicap or disability; I don’t use it as a crutch and there are some that unfortunately cannot find their stride with it, but for those of us that do this is really cool to see it done in a way that I know I can actually respect. Bravo to you who have brought this about… I’m pumped to see more!

  50. jeannie says:

    Prolly could be a good show since medical shows are the rage. However, I have difficulty watching HER! She does not fit the part and is irritating to relate to. Bad character casting. Perhaps a better actress might get show out of its slump.