Eczema Co-Stars in New HBO Show ‘The Night Of’
Could a new television show help to lift the eczema stigma?
Representation in the media changes everything. Just by the virtue of seeing a different religion, race, sexuality, or belief system on television or in film, the public starts to understand it better. By including different kinds of people in the media, groups that were previously misunderstood can become normalized.
The same is true for various conditions and illnesses. Remember the film Rain Man? It was many people’s first introduction to autism. The United States of Tara, for helped educate the public about mental illness. The popular television movie, The C-Word, dealt with breast cancer treatment. And now, eczema is being highlighted in the new HBO courtroom drama The Night Of.
We found this article about The Night Of a few days ago, and it sounds like they really got eczema—and its struggles—right.
In the show, lawyer John Stone, played by John Turturro, finds himself defending a college student accused of murder. In his first scene with the student, we see Stone’s feet. They are covered in painful, red, and dry skin that anyone who suffers from eczema will recognize. He says that his doctor told him to wear sandals in order to keep them aerated and away from the warm, enclosed, and sweaty encasement of shoes and socks.
As the series continues, we see his eczema get worse and worse, a reflection of his struggle with the trial. Throughout it all, people see his bare feet and automatically assume he’s somehow contagious or there’s something serious wrong with him.
In the article, the co-creator of The Night Of says he wanted Stone’s eczema to become an integral part of the character, something that literally follows him throughout the show. It isn’t just a character “quirk”; it’s a condition that weighs on Stone and influences his behavior.
When Turturro is asked how the character’s condition impacts his performance, he says that it’s one of those ailments that no one ever sees on television, even though many people struggle with it every day of their lives. He points out how eczema can, day in and day out, wear on person and really hurt their quality of life.
We have yet to watch the show ourselves, but based on what we’ve read, we’re hopeful that they’re portraying eczema accurately and showing how people deal with the condition on a daily basis.
Many people with visible eczema know the embarrassment of people looking at them as if there’s something wrong with them. They know how the pain and discomfort, every minute of the day, can get in the way of happiness. And now, thanks to shows like The Night Of, audiences at home can learn and understand it. If the show even educates one person about what it’s like to live with eczema, then we think watching it will be well worth it!
Yahr, Emily. "‘The Night Of': Why a skin condition is a subplot of HBO’s new drama.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 18 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2016.