Monday, May 18, 2009

Reaping More Awareness

You know something’s gone mainstream when it starts showing up in TV shows, not as a pivotal plot point, but as a throw-away dialogue line.

Last night, I was watching an episode of Reaper. (Granted, it was about six weeks old – I’m woefully behind on my DVR.) In this episode, Sam (the main character) doesn’t know his girlfriend has found out that his biological father just happens to be Satan. She accosts him and demands to know if there’s “anything you want to tell me.”

Sam, looking confused and contrite, offers, “I’m allergic to tree nuts?”

It wasn’t even a punchline to a joke. It was just a bit of dialogue that allowed him to attempt to elude the girlfriend for another second or two. And in the great scale of evils, being allergic to tree nuts didn’t even make the girlfriend blink – not when it was measured against being the son of the devil. Go figure.

What does this mean? Simply that food allergies have become so common that just about everyone knows about them and knows someone with them, so that a TV show can mention food allergies off-the-cuff and no one is left scratching their heads.

Just try doing that ten years ago. More than half the audience would have been saying, “Allergic to tree nuts? What’s that all about?”

This is, of course, good news. Wide-spread awareness is the first major step towards a cure for any illness – the more people understand the illness, the more likely they are to discover it early enough in themselves to treat, the more likely they are to support friends and family who get the illness, and the more likely they are to support research and treatment funding. Just look what’s happened with breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and even erectile dysfunction.

Okay, maybe I’m overanalyzing a silly television show. But it made me smile to think that the writers of Reaper are aware of food allergies and aren’t above spreading a little more awareness themselves. Every little bit helps.

I always have liked that show!

1 comment:

Karen said...

I would like to see people with medical alert bracelet, or someone bring their own food to a party or other "allergic behaviors" with little explanation, just common background information on a character.