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Multiples on Cable

Sharon of the Anachronic Army

Various shows -- April 3, 2000

What kind of portrayals of multiples can be found on television? The majority of shows portray multiples as insane, disordered and out of control.

However, sometimes programs can change over time. For example, take The X-Files. In the episode "The Field Where I Died", a cult member is believed to be a multiple. Of course, there's the usual skepticism and stereotypes surrounding the entire plotline of this episode. The multiple's condition is regarded as "controversial" and it is considered that she might be "acting".

After seeing that episode, my opinion of The X-Files dropped several points. It irritated me that a show that tended to have an open mind to the so-called paranormal and unusual would suggest so strongly that multiples were faking it or fitting into a stereotype. Just tonight, however, I saw a different episode of The X-Files.

This one was named "Chimera", and involved a woman blanking out when she became a strange creature that went around killing people and smashing mirrors, not wanting to see its face. At the end of the episode, Skully and Mulder decided the woman probably had MPD, since she had lost time and become a completely different person. (In this case, she also became a different species) It was a different approach from the earlier episode - multiplicity treated more as a definite thing rather than a controversial theory. As well, it challenged the notion that all people in a household are human - an attitude we have worked to correct on our site. Click.

Let's flip the channels again. Ah, Duckman. I have flipped onto the show in the middle of an episode, so I don't know the name of this one. Duckman has had himself committed to a mental institution and is playing cards with three patients for pills. He asks how they tell the crazies from the normals. The first one gives a very intellectual answer saying he isn't sure, and needs to ask his invisible friend sitting next to him. The next one says he doesn't know, and he doesn't know either. Okay, so it was an attempt at humor. I think. Click.

Star Trek often gives a good stab at talking about issues which are socially taboo. Multiplicity sometimes enters into this. In an early Next Generation episode called "The Schizoid Man", a dying man puts his mind inside Data's body and insists that he is the one who belongs there rather than Data. This has implications of the first person being the "real" one, and also the episode title is a common mistake. We all know (I hope) that schizophrenia and multiplicity are two completely different things.

Like The X-Files, there was an improvement on the portrayal of multiples over time. Several seasons later, in an episode named "Masks", Data (again!) becomes an entire ancient civilization of people of all ages. (and in our opinion the role(s) were well played by Brent Spiner. It's takes a really good actor to play the role of a multiple convincingly.) This episode treated it as something real and genuine, and suggested the possibility that a system could have huge numbers of people with no problem. Of course, since Data is a machine, the numbers would not be as big of a problem for audiences to believe. Click.

In Star Trek: Voyager, there are suggestions not only that Seven of Nine is a multiple (somehow due to her connection to the Borg, which is a nightmare image of a multiple mind in and of themselves), but that she was having false memories. These shows can tend to be inconsistent, depending on their writers.

We are looking at various portrayals of multiples in the media. If you have found any, or know the names of some of the episodes we have mentioned, let us know. In the meantime, sit back in your lazyboy, and happy switching... channels, that is.

of the Anachronic Army

You can write to Pavilion at pavilion@ karitas . net. Back to the library
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