ABC Takes Wonderland Off The Air
Statement by Laurie Flynn, Executive Director, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill
Apr 12 2000
After only two episodes, ABC Television has announced that Wonderland is being taken off the air and put into "hiatus." This is more than good news. The announcement is a relief for millions of Americans with mental illness, their families and friends. It also is a victory against stigma. It is a victory against messages of hopelessness and despair, and for the U.S. Surgeon General's campaign to prevent suicides, which Wonderland recklessly ignored.
Wonderland's weekly ratings were abysmal. But we also know that the protests of thousands of consumers and family members had an impact-raising legitimate concerns about the show's stereotypes and harmful effects. Many CEO's listened and many of the show's commercial sponsors already had announced that they were pulling their support for the show, by the time ABC made its decision.
This victory doesn't stop with Wonderland. We have sent a powerful message to the entertainment industry. We have raised the standard of what is considered acceptable on television. Stereotypes of people with mental illness no longer will be tolerated. They will be challenged.
NAMI thanks those sponsors who listened to our concerns: AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, The Scott Company, and Staples.
We also thank the other organizations in the Mental Health Coalition Against Stigma in Hollywood who worked with us and are listed below.
Most of all, we thank those NAMI local affiliates and members who over the past two weeks wrote countless letters to sponsors, called ABC stations, spoke to news reporters, and lobbied for the broadcast of suicide hotline numbers as part of each episode of Wonderland. This victory belongs to you.
To some degree, we also are saddened by the lost opportunity that Wonderland represents. Unfortunately, the show focused on the harshest, narrowest aspects of mental illness. The next time television seeks to visit the world of mental illness, we hope it will do so with the perspective of our broader reality: both with balance and themes of courage and hope, which are so much a part of our lives.
MENTAL HEALTH COALITION AGAINST STIGMA IN HOLLYWOOD
- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY
- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PASTORAL COUNSELORS
- AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC NURSES ASSOCIATION
- AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION
- ASSERTIVE COMMUNITY TREATMENT ASSOCIATION
- ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY
- AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF COMMUNITY PSYCHIATRISTS
- COMPEER, INC.
- FOUNTAIN HOUSE
- INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHOSOCIAL REHABILITATION SERVICES
- INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR CLUBHOUSE DEVELOPMENT
- INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF PSYCHIATRIC-MENTAL HEALTH NURSES
- NATIONAL ALLIANCE FOR THE MENTALLY ILL
- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF COUNTY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH DIRECTORS
- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PSYCHIATRIC HEALTH SYSTEMS
- NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SOCIAL WORKERS
- NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR COMMUNITY BEHAVIORAL HEALTHCARE
- NATIONAL DEPRESSIVE AND MANIC-DEPRESSIVE ASSOCIATION
- NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
- NATIONAL SCHIZOPHRENIA FOUNDATION
- GERALD AND ELSIE WEYRAUCH, FOUNDERS SUICIDE PREVENTION ADVOCACY NETRWORK (SPANUSA)