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Reviews Comments: Tasteless Monk whole series review by M Kantor

Monk isn't just an incredibly inaccurate portrayal of OCD, it is an insult to those who truly suffer from this serious mental illness. The show completely ignores the obsession part of OCD, and Monk's compulsions consist of only the most stereotypical. The writers use Monk's compulsions as punchlines, and, as one poster on the OCD forums put it, the way Monk acts "just fuels the stigma about how all OCD sufferers are all eccentric, reclusive invalids." It trivializes the hell that those with OCD go through every single day.

No one would ever write a comedy show about someone with a physically crippling disease, because that would be insensitive and rude. But apparently, it's all right to write a comedy show about someone with a mentally crippling disease.

Watch something else.


  • maninahat
  • 3rd Sep 11
Whilst I agree that it is a little tasteless, I don't know if it does trivialize OCD. Comedy often relies on someone being the butt of the joke. I suppose it is in some way cruel to find Niles Crane's priggish, poshness funny (things about himself he can't actually help). And maybe it is insensitive to make jokes about bums in movies and general media. The public has some very arbitrary rules as to who counts as acceptableTargets. Here is the thing in Monk's case. Monk is just one guy with OCD. He is not representative of all people with OCD. His condition, coupled with his personality, make him do absurd, comical things, so I guess it can be argued that we are laughing at Monk, and not OCD in general. If we assume that Monk assumes all people with OCD are risible, than we must assume Monk also assumes that all people with OCD are highly observant geniuses who can solve any crime put before them.

NB: there are plenty of shows that make fun of disability (or at least, have fun with it). One particular example that sticks out is the show "I'm Spazticus" , in which disabled people play pranks on the public, Trigger Happy TV style. I guess in that shows case though, genuinely disabled people are at least in on the joke, and able to have a laugh. We laugh with them instead of at them.
  • MKantor
  • 10th Oct 11
In response to maninahat's comment:

You raise a number of valid points. What irks me, however, is that because there are so few representations of OCD in the media, most people's understanding of the disorder comes from shows like Monk, which do not portray it accurately. If the general public were better informed about the reality of OCD, I would not have as much of a problem with Monk, because I would know that viewers would be able to recognize and distinguish between fact and embellishment.

Another problem is that the show does, in fact, appear to assume that all people with OCD are highly observant geniuses. When Monk takes his medication, he loses the skills that make him a great detective. This says that Monk's detective skills and his success in solving cases come solely from his disorder, which in turn implies that having OCD gives you special powers of deduction. It doesn't. It just makes you really, really miserable.

I sincerely apologize if I have come across here as rude or unnecessarily aggressive. I always try to keep a level head when discussing these sorts of things, but oftentimes I get very worked up because this issue hits so close to home for me. Only by being better informed can the stigma surrounding mental disorders such as OCD be dispelled.

Also, I went back and edited my original comment so that the title Monk is properly formatted. (I only just figured out how to italicize words. Sorry about that.)
  • DandelionFire
  • 18th May 12
"It just makes you really, really miserable."

I gotta correct you on this. My mom's a hoarder which means she has OCD. It is miserable, but she's also really good at shopping because of that. The negative outweighs the positive in her case, but after living with her, I cannot say there is nothing positive that came from her OCD.

I'm also autistic (though most people don't see it anymore) and one of the traits of that is an inclination towards OCD. I'm not saying I have OCD, but most of the time I can't go anywhere without a book in hand and I think it's related. Because of that I'm never bored, so in my case being a little obsessed with books is a good thing.

Saying that mental disorders only make individuals miserable is bad, because often there are good traits attached. Autistic people, for one, tend to have a subject they're obsessed with which means they end up being what amounts to experts in that area. That's a good thing, though it can come with a lot of hard things to deal with too.
  • dmeagher13
  • 7th Sep 12
Ohhh, it offends you. How horrible. Imagine if we got rid of anything that offended someone, even in the slightest. Read Fahrenheit 451.
  • Kajin
  • 2nd Oct 12
I grew up with OCD as an inherent part of the Autism Spectrum Disorder Asperger Syndrome, and I thought Monk was bloody hilarious. One of my all time favorite shows. Just because it irks you doesn't mean that it irks everyone else. Besides, Monk is a kindly, genuinely likable individual. While his condition is played for an insane number of laughs, it still portrays him in a rather sympathetic light.

The end of that episode where Monk spent the entire time getting in good with a judge's kid so he could get back on the Police force had me genuinely crying.
  • vanishingreality
  • 10th Oct 12
I agree with Kajin. I could identify with Monk, I actually liked that someone with social problems and a mental disorder was portrayed as the hero of the show. That rarely happens at all.

His disorder wasn't romanticized or portrayed as overly positive, because obviously Monk's OCD had drawbacks.
  • AnorhiDemarche
  • 4th Jun 13
I know it's a little late, but I'd like to point out that a show of this genre isn't going to portray everything right. it's going to portray what the general population thinks OCD is like, chuck some stuff in there to give them something to think about, maybe challenge their views a little, but it's not going to be "educational" or seek to change the world.

I don't think the show portrays monk as an invalid. lets not forget that it's stated a number of times that his condition got worse after he lost his wife. That didn't mean that his wife was caring for him and now he needs a nurse instead. it means "this dude used to be a very good cop, could catch anyone, could take care of himself. his wifes death hit him hard and now his previous tenancies have gotten to the point where he prefers having someone around to help him deal" the only reason wasn't on the force anymore was because he was so effected by his wifes death. they would do the same to a cop who had turned heavily to booze after being let go. eventually he got back on the force(the would hardly hire an invalid), but left because he liked detective stuff better. he's had to deal without a nurse many times, and he gets along just fine. he just prefers to have someone there to support him, just in case. Plus, all the times he's gone through trash, dirt, sewage, things he's very afraid of (and that most of us wouldn't like either) just to get some scrap of evidence that might be enough to bring down the justice. (honestly, if someone can face up to fears that large I don't think you can count them as an invalid.)

I think the way the show portrayed people's reactions to monks condition was brilliant. 'specially that idiot reporter "Oh, I know all about ADHD. did a piece on that before" and people who have, upon finding out about it, said rude and insensitive things. I don't have OCD, but I do know what extreme irrational fears and facing up to them is like. Ones that get the "there's a fear of that?" reaction from most people at the very least. I've mentioned my cartilogenophobia (fear of bones) only for some idiot to say "you know you've got bones in your body, right?" or even worse, wave a chicken bone in my face (that guy got a broken nose for his trouble.)The way the show presents the "you have a condition that makes your life harder? lol!" asshats of the world is "that dude's an asshole" not "that's so funny! what a funny guy!"

tl:dr: I like it and am rambling.
  • ElectricNova
  • 14th Mar 14
Sorry to necro, but i agree with the reviewer, as someone who suffers from OCD.

It's amazing that people are trying to justify this. Mental health is apparently still an acceptable target for some stupid reason. You wouldn't make an entire show devoted to laughing at a guy because he's gay, and that's the only joke. And you wouldn't defend it either.
  • Pannic
  • 14th Mar 14
"You wouldn't make an entire show devoted to laughing at a guy because he's gay, and that's the only joke."

Will & Grace ran for eight seasons.
  • ElectricNova
  • 14th Mar 14
Well, crap. Guess I was wrong there.

But people don't seem to defend that show much.

  • porschelemans
  • 5th Apr 14
I've suffered extremely bad OCD in my time, and I'm very split on this issue. On the one hand, OCD is a serious psychological disorder issue which is more often than not trivialised and treated with comments of "oh, I'm a bit like that" (you probably are, the difference is that you don't find it incapacitating); on the other hand, OCD can be bloody hilarious in some circumstances, and saying that you shouldn't laugh at something you find funny because it might offend someone is a) hypocritical, and b) can lead to Farenheit 451 type situations. So, Monk gets a pass, if only because it was actually rather good.
  • porschelemans
  • 5th Apr 14
  • Carnivac
  • 26th Apr 14
Ok I don't really want to say too much about my personal problems but I have had various degrees of OCD and many other mental health issues over the years. I'm doing ok these days (some days are better than others obviously) but anyways I'm a big fan of this show (it's in my top ten of all time) and I found it actually helped me in some ways, certainly it comforted and entertained me. I loved that despite his issues he's out there doing a job and one that actually matters and helps other people and that there are times he has to have the strength to just get past all his own stuff and do the right thing. For me that helped a lot particularly when I was agoraphohic and very ill and found this show to be a positive source of escapism which, among other things, helped me get out and get used to things again. I love this show and actually consider it a sort of 'friend' (if a TV show can be such a thing) that helped me through some of my darker times.
  • Mr.Movie
  • 26th Apr 14
As a person who has worked with special needs kids, I can say that I have never seen Monk. However, I trust your judgement in that it was inaccurate, and it probably pissed you off a lot for you to have your entire review imply that the inaccurate portrayal (no offense, but that was all you mentioned) alone is enough to bring down the show's quality.
  • Mr.Movie
  • 26th Apr 14
As a person who has worked with special needs kids, I can say that I have never seen Monk. However, I trust your judgement in that it was inaccurate, and it probably pissed you off a lot for you to have your entire review imply that the inaccurate portrayal (no offense, but that was all you mentioned) alone is enough to bring down the show's quality.
  • NonSequiturWalrus
  • 27th May 15
I don't think that a factual inaccuracy should ruin your entire enjoyment of a show. There's no sound in space. Does that ruin Star Wars? You can't survive without your heart. Does that ruin Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? Actually, that movie was bad without that inaccuracy. Regardless, do you see my point? This is fiction. Fiction's purpose is (usually) to entertain. Monk's purpose is to entertain.
  • AHI-3000
  • 28th Dec 15
I know someone with a mental disorder, and yet they enjoyed this show anyways.

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