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How Red Band Society Could Impact How We View the Physically and Mentally Ill

Updated on September 22, 2014

About the Show Red Band Society

Originally a Spanish television show, the Red Band Society is now a dramedy that airs on Fox, showcasing life inside of a hospital.

Unlike other hospital based shows, such as House, ER, and Grey's Anatomy, this is not a show where the doctors are the stars, but instead, it focuses on the patients.

The show Red Band Society is about several patients on the pediatric unit of a hospital- all of whom are sufferng from life-threatening conditions. One patient has cystic fibrosis, two patients have cancer, one boy is in a coma, another patient suffers from a heart condition, and the last patient has an eating disorder.

Not only is the show incredibly moving, but it is also quite powerful- shedding light on a subject rarely covered and rarely talked about. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, I have no doubt that Red Band Society will touch the hearts of millions should they chose to tune in to this powerful show.

Watch the Pilot Episode of Red Band Society

The Cast of Red Band Society and the Show's Depiction of Life Inside of a Hospital

The Red Band Society stars the hilarious Octavia Spencer as Nurse Jackson, Dave Annabelle as Dr. Jack McAndrew, Griffin Gluck as Charlie, Nolan Sotillo as Jordi Palacios, Charlie Rowe as Leo Roth, Astro as Dash, Zoe Levin as Kara Souders, Ciarra Bravo as Emma Chota and Mandy Moore as Dr. Erin Grace.

The patients are the main characters of the show, including Charlie (who plays a boy in a coma, as well as the narrator of the show), Jordi (a boy suffering from cancer), Dash (who has severe cystic fibrosis), Emma (a girl suffering from anorexia nervosa), Kara (the cheerleader with a heart condition), and Leo (a newly admitted cancer patient).

Together, these six young individuals make up what is known as the "Red Band Society". All of them are patients on the hospital's pediatric unitt. They spend their time bonding, laughing, and coming up with ways to irritate Nurse Jackson, a woman who would go above and beyond to help these kids.

Watch the Official Traler for Red Band Society

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What Life in a Hospital is Really Like

Now, I can only speak from my limited viewpoint of life inside of a hospital, but I do have some experience in this area and feel like the differences between the show and reality should be pointed out.

I have been inpatient for several weeks on numerous eating disorder units, have been in residential treatment centers all over the country, and have also spent more time than I would care to admit on various psychiatric wards.

Emma Cota is the name of the girl on Red Band Society suffering from anorexia nervosa. When I watched the first episode of the show, her character and the little nuances of her role on the show are what I found to be way off base.

When you are in the hospital because of an eating disorder, most of the time you are placed on a locked down unit. You are not able to interact with other patients, you don't get to wear make-up and you certainly can't wear some of the outfits worn by Emma on the show.

During one scene, Emma gives her lunch to another patient. This would NEVER, let me emphasize this again, NEVER happen on an actual eating disorder unit.

When someone goes into the hospital for any type of eating disorder, your meals are monitored, and you are watched like a hawk until you finish every morsel on your plate.

Unlike other hospital units, the eating disorder unit is not typically separated by age. Because of this, Emma would not be on the pediatric floor, but would be around other men and women suffering from a similar condition.

Luckily, I have never suffered from cancer, but I have suffered from anorexia, and I have also struggled with severe lung probems, making the inside of a hospital quite familiar to me. You do make friends when you are locked up inside, and you do learn the ropes of which nurses are easiest to one over, as well as which doctors to avoid.

I found the closing line of the show quite powerful when Charlie, the boy in the coma, states that "many people think that life ends when you are in the hospital, but it's just the opposite, life begins."

Is the Red Band Society Helpful or Harmful to How the Public Views Those Who are Ill?

As someone who suffers from a chronic, life-threatening ailment that has put me in the hospital more times then I can count, I would argue that this show can be a huge benefit to not only those who are sick, but those who are healthy as well.

Despite tiny nuances that prevent the show from being a completely accurate depiction of life inside of a hospital, the show does do the situaion justice. Being sick doesn't mean your life is over, in fact many people learn to appreciate life so much more when they are diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Although the stigma surrounding mental illness is much larger than the stigma surrounding physical illness, both still exist. Sick individuals are viewed as weaker than those who are healthy, but we are not. Just because my body may not be as healthy as yours does not make you any better than I am. Somehow, hospitals put us all on an equal playing field.

I have high hopes for this show and look forward to seeing how it progresses, as well as how it continues to portray this very unknown lifestyle.

© 2014 Kathleen Odenthal


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    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image

      Kathleen Odenthal 3 years ago from Bridgewater

      Thanks for commenting Iris!

    • Iris Draak profile image

      Cristen Iris 3 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Interesting article and your perspective adds credibility to your assessment of the show's value. Anytime we can humanize situations that we find fearful it helps all of us. Thanks for writing about this show.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Excellent review of a program. Maybe it will help in understanding if they get it right.

    • goatfury profile image

      Andrew Smith 3 years ago from Richmond, VA

      Not really my thing, but I appreciate shows like this that have the possibility to impact society on a larger scale by opening eyes up to a different situation.

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image

      Kathleen Odenthal 3 years ago from Bridgewater

      I had the same fears at first, especially knowing that one of the cast members plays a girl with an eating disorder, but it was surprisingly uplifitng and even comedic. I think you would like it :)

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Kathleen, I've not seen the previews for this show, so this is the first I've heard of it. I don't think I could watch it. It looks like every episode would make me cry!

    • Kathleen Odenthal profile image

      Kathleen Odenthal 3 years ago from Bridgewater

      Although theres only been one episode it seems like its going to be a great show! Thanks for the comment Billy!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Never heard of it, so thanks for the review. I will definitely watch it.