By Frances Ryan in The Guardian.
Afflicted has enraged its participants, but it wouldn’t be the first TV show to use people with disabilities as entertainment fodder.
An open letter to Netflix was published on Tuesday criticising its recent docu-series, Afflicted, which chronicles the lives of seven people with chronic illnesses. The letter highlighted what it called the show’s “stigmatising portrayal of disability” and was signed by a Nobel laureate as well as film-makers, writers and activists including Monica Lewinsky and Lena Dunham.
Billed as portraying “baffling symptoms and controversial diagnoses”, the show follows patients as they search for treatments and some relief. But it was alleged in an article in the LA Times that producers used “unethical practices”, editing footage to suggest participants’ medical conditions were psychosomatic disorders, using few expert doctors and focusing on sceptical medics who cast doubt on whether the individuals were ill at all (that science doesn’t understand many health conditions doesn’t make their symptoms less real).
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