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Homeland and its use of bipolar disorder for sensationalist and dramatic effect

Wondemaghen, Meron



When a lead character in a critically acclaimed and award-winning television programme is depicted as a proficient and meticulous heroine with a mental disorder, it is crucial to examine if this reflects a change in the media depiction of people with mental illness. This article employs framing analysis to examine the portrayal of lead CIA agent with bipolar disorder, Carrie Mathison, in Homeland. Although the show did initially associate competence, intellect and astuteness to this character, as it progressed, the framing decisions used for dramatic and sensational purposes ultimately presented Mathison within the usual stereotypical depictions: as impulsive, irrational, unpredictable, unstable, dangerous and disordered. Given the popularity of the show, responsible depictions should take priority over dramatic effect at the expense of a character with mental illness because sufferers may be deterred in speaking about their illness and seeking appropriate treatment if such negative themes persist.


Wondemaghen, M. (2019). Homeland and its use of bipolar disorder for sensationalist and dramatic effect. Social Semiotics, 29(2), 131-144.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 10, 2018
Online Publication Date Jan 10, 2018
Publication Date Mar 15, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 2, 2022
Journal Social Semiotics
Print ISSN 1035-0330
Electronic ISSN 1470-1219
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 2
Pages 131-144
Public URL