Film / TVHealth

does andre lyon’s portrayal on ’empire’ contribute to mental health stigma?

October 18, 2017
By Jasmin Pierre, AFROPUNK contributor

Anyone who has ever watched Empire knows about the eldest son Andre Lyon. While very smart and business savvy he’s also portrayed as crazy. Andre is also like an outcast in his family. Many times you see him being sneaky and evil. He sometimes does horrible things to stab his family in the back and he feels like the least loved child.

Andre also happens to have Bipolar disorder. In the show, there have been times where they made Andre downright scary. Like a scene where he put a gun to his head and clicked the trigger which didn’t go off (to which he started screaming). One of the most bizarre scenes is when he had a threesome with the new girl he liked and his dead wife Rhonda who had been talking to him in Ghost form (which was the very last episode I could stomach to watch because of his “crazy” mental Illness portrayal).

I could also mention how they made Andre be very similar to Luscious mother. She is also portrayed as scary, evil, and very unpredictable. Luscious is embarrassed by his son’s illness and spites him at times because of how much he reminds him of his mother.
This all leads me to wonder if this really how many black families see loved ones with mental health challenges? Do these thoughts contribute to why so many black family members shut you down if you even try to mention your mental health?

I mean think about it. So many black people see mental health challenges as a weakness, a demon, and a downright crazy-ass excuse. So why wouldn’t Andre Lyon be portrayed as a stereotypical person With Bipolar Disorder? Why wouldn’t they make him seem sneaky, evil, and demonic?

I’m not saying that mental health issues can’t be scary sometimes. However, Hollywood can tend to Dramatize the way others already view mental health and in return that adds to more stigma. What are your thoughts on Andre’s portrayal on the show? If you deal with mental health challenges how does watching his scenes make you feel at times? Let me know in the comments.

*Jasmin Pierre is a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Certified Mental Health First Aid Responder, Mental Health Advocate, Motivational Speaker, Author of the self help book “A Fight Worth Finishing”, and Owner of the Recovery based service LiveHopeChange. Jasmin is constantly fighting for the rights of those who battle Mental Health Challenges.
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