How Epitome Pictures’ ‘Open Heart’ is Breaking My Heart

“Open Heart” is a new Canadian television series by Epitome Pictures, the same production company that brings us “Degrassi” and brought us “Instant Star”, centered around Dylan, a rebellious teenager, who is taking matters into her own hands and searching for her missing father, whom she recently learned is (or was) a diagnosed schizophrenic.

I started watching this series because it’s by Epitome Pictures, who seems to produce quality television series.

The first episode didn’t make me want to watch it more, but still, I gave it a chance. If you’ve not yet watched it, but you think you might want to, this post is going to spoil a few things for you, and you should read at your own risk.

1. Mental illness ignorance

The series takes place in a hospital, with the main characters either being doctors themselves or constantly surrounded by doctors. Why is Dylan so heartbroken to find her father is schizophrenic to the point that she keeps throwing it around? I understand people cope and heal with things in different ways, but it’s bothering me. Before it was learned that he’s “sick”, I knew he had to be schizophrenic or something, but I really felt like it was too much of a far-fetched assumption, because wouldn’t it have been handled differently or better?

Since the creator of “Degrassi” is also one of the creators of “Open Heart”, “Degrassi” has covered mental illness before, and the main location is at a hospital, I just expected medical-related aspects of the series to be covered differently, perhaps even with some scenes to educate the audience on it a bit. Children below thirteen even watch this, and they have Tumblr accounts, and if you read some of the things the younger fans are saying about Dylan’s dad and schizophrenia, it’s devastating. Why not try to educate them through a series they watch? We really don’t need more ignorance in the world surrounding mental disorders and mental illnesses.

2. The actors’ characters don’t do justice for the actors’ talent.

I know Christina Prosperi is a brilliant actress. I’ve watched her for years on “Degrassi”. However, I’m now watching her on “Open Heart”, and I don’t know if it’s the directing or the lines or what, but it’s making her look like a bad actress. Justin Kelly’s another actor whose character (or lines, or whatever) is making him look like a bad actor. I know these two actors are really, really great, but they’re just not getting to shine. I feel like they’re being forced to tone down their awesomeness to fit in with the cheesiness of the series, only it’s not cheesiness, it’s…

3. Cheesiness or something else?

It doesn’t feel like the teen medical drama it’s supposed to be—it feels like “Napoleon Dynamite” is being re-shot at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, with House, M.D. turning into this seemingly hunky know-it-all who’s not as funny or cute as he thinks he is. “Teen Wolf” mastered the cheesy drama/comedy, and “Degrassi” has a nice balance of that as well.

Perhaps the storyline is just being rushed? It’s hard to tell with Dylan whining all the time and needing things to always be about her or her dad—and cue Wes, who is going to pine after Dylan, which brings me to my deal-breaker.

4. Dylan forgave Wes’ possessive behavior too quickly.

Again, TEENS ARE WATCHING THIS. Remember The Twilight Saga? Teens all over the world gushed over Edward Cullen and shipped him with Bella, but that’s because Stephanie Meyer put them together, making the ship real—she made it seem okay. Edward was possessive, and he grew too jealous of Jake—he was nearly controlling, if not for-sure controlling, over Jacob’s relationship with Bella.

Then, we have Fifty Shades of Grey, a thing teens are [disgustingly] getting all hot and bothered over. I watched this twenty-minute preview of it, and it was so weird and cheesy and stupid and poorly written—though I’m blaming the so-called “novel” for that—and I felt so uncomfortable. Within that twenty minutes, the main characters had already met, and Christian Grey was already possessive over the Anastasia Steele.

Dylan went with Dr. Hudson to find the original graffiti from her father’s drawing during a hospital lock down, and upon their return, Wes attacked Dr. Hudson out of jealousy. When the hell is this ever okay? HOW is this okay? WHAT makes it okay for Wes to do that? What’s more, WHY is Dylan apologizing? They’re not official during that time—she didn’t cheat, and he didn’t own her.

I waited, and waited, and waited for her to confront Wes and explain to him that that sort of behavior isn’t okay, but she never did. Was I the only one who felt that that scene screamed “abusive” to me?

If I had kids of the appropriate age for this series, I wouldn’t let them watch this—then again, they’d know to either never treat someone like Wes treated Dr. Hudson, or to never let anyone treat them like that.

I’m still watching the series, waiting for a little dash of hope that it isn’t as downhill as it’s going for me, but if season one continues to go the way it is, you can count me out.

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Comments on this post

Jessica’s gravatar

Sometimes I think as we get older we lose touch with the fact that we once believed everything revolved around us – the peak of this being our teen years. Maybe the show is trying to somewhat accurately portray the selfishness of being a teenager, but also show that Dylan is trying to change and grow. I mean, according to what I read on IMDB – she’s doing community service because she got in trouble after her Dad disappeared. It’s also highly possible that she never knew that he was schizophrenic, which could explain why she constantly throws it around. But anyhow, I think that what it boils down to is Dylan is dealing with the situation the best way that she knows how…and I’m going to have to see if I can watch this show. 😀

Liz’s gravatar

She didn’t know he’s schizophrenic, because her mother didn’t tell her. However, that nuisance is more along the lines of the icing on the cake, considering my biggest problem with the series, i.e. #4.

They play it online on MTV Canada’s site and on c:

Michelle’s gravatar

Yeah, I’ve never seen Degrassi, but I’ll take your word for it that it is a good quality show, plus, mental illness needs to be portrayed in a better light than it has. I agree schizophrenia is hard to portrayed perfectly, but I think if you’re going to do it, then go all the way and not do stereotyping in it. I can understand your complaints about the show, and I too, would stop watching if it had those problems early on.

Kya’s gravatar

I had not heard about that series before. It does sound a bit interesting, but it is disappointing that they are not using it to educate the younger audience like you said. -_-

It is also so annoying when there is an actor/actress you like and has been in really great roles, but for a number of reasons a certain part just doesn’t work. 🙁

I hope that the show does pick up and you can enjoy it. /cookie

Joy’s gravatar

Sadly, clarity and information gets trumped by what will bring in viewers. If more kids and viewers were well-informed about the issues in this show, they know that they would have to put more effort into making a television show of quality. One that makes respectful, accurate and tasteful choices that represent the illness and appropriate social behaviors.

That’s one of the reasons why I like your blog. You always give insight and appropriate understanding of the hurdles you deal with personally and what others are dealing with so that your readers leave informed and with proper understanding. Keep at it!