Oprah Winfrey’s new series aims to help regular people who are struggling. But the astonishing lack of self-awareness of Prince Harry and the victim culture displayed by self-serving celebrities dilute its appeal.
The Me You Can’t See is a five-part documentary about mental health issues produced by Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry that premiered on May 21 on the streaming service Apple TV.
The uneven series features interviews with Oprah and Harry, Lady Gaga, Glenn Close, and a plethora of regular people. Thankfully, unlike the parts featuring thirsty celebrities, the segments featuring non-famous participants and unconventional approaches to mental health hold some value.
The most compelling of these regular folk are the parents at the Selah Care Farm, who have lost children to suicide. Their brutal honesty and unfathomable, gut-wrenching grief are deeply moving and profound.
Equally compelling is the story of a young boy named Fawzi, a Syrian refugee living in Greece. The trauma Fawzi suffered in Syria is horrifying, but the doctor helping him heal is a beacon of hope for humanity.
Other captivating and insightful stories include Rashad, a black man suffering depression, Forget, a granny in Zimbabwe who provides mental health care in her remote area, Ambar, a young woman diagnosed with schizophrenia, and Ian, a man with an egregiously traumatic childhood who takes part in a study on the hallucinogen psilocybin as a way for people to address their trauma, anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, The Me You Can’t See doesn’t focus entirely on everyday people, but instead wraps itself in the shallow Oprah aesthetic and the toxicity of celebrity and victimhood culture.
Oprah has long been painfully obtuse in regard to mental health and even admits as much on the show. But despite this admission, she is still completely incapable of being anything other than a carnival barker and new age snake oil saleswoman, as The Me You Can’t See proves.
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The big draw of the series is Prince Harry, who’s featured throughout speaking about his journey to therapy, his struggle with the death of his mother, the “neglect” and “bullying” he suffered at the hands of the Royal family and his ultimate escape from it all.
Harry claims he began therapy four years ago at Meghan Markle’s insistence. What is so peculiar, though, is how completely devoid of self-awareness he seems to be.
For example, near the end of the series, Harry says he “has never had any anger through this,” but he is obviously seething whenever he talks about the “firm,” the media, and the paparazzi.
Harry seems to be in denial of his shadow, and it would serve him better to acknowledge this anger with the paparazzi in particular, because then he might come to better understand that the paparazzi is not the disease that killed his mother, it is merely a symptom.
The disease that killed Princess Diana was fame, and by moving to Hollywood, becoming enmeshed in the entertainment world, and putting himself front and center in this series, Harry is not shunning the beast that devoured her, but embracing it.
The series is a frustrating viewing experience because while it tackles a worthwhile subject, it uses celebrity culture as the gateway into that discussion, which is the equivalent of serving booze at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
The reality is that celebrity and victimhood culture is a trauma upon our society, just as much as fame is a trauma upon those who attain it, because it confuses sadness with depression, nervousness with anxiety, and obstacles with trauma, while breeding a populace of fantasists fueled by delusion and narcissism.
Oprah, Harry, Lady Gaga, and the rest may genuinely suffer, but their celebrity status makes their public struggle feel performative and self-serving. And in many cases, if the famous wanted to decrease their anxiety and trauma, they could do so by simply withdrawing from public life.
For instance, Harry claims that he and Meghan simply could not withstand negative media attention anymore. So, his solution was for them to start a production company, sign a deal with Netflix, do a huge interview with Oprah, and publicly navel gaze on an Apple TV series. This is obviously self-defeating.
Also self-defeating is the rich and privileged Harry being filmed doing an EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing) therapy session, where he recalls a trauma from his life and then hugs himself, rapidly moves his closed eyes and rhythmically taps his body. That treatment may be effective, but it comes across as so ridiculous as to be a hyper-parody, and will set back working-class views of psychiatry two hundred years.
Ironically Fight Club’s Tyler Durden accurately diagnosed our current mental and emotional dis-ease and malaise much better than The Me You Can’t See when he said, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy s**t we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war… Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.”
We’re very depressed and anxious too… and The Me You Can’t See would’ve been better served preaching as the antidote to those maladies the power of resilience, becoming comfortable with discomfort, and overcoming petty traumas and not identifying with them. Instead, the series is an often-vapid, victimhood touting, celebrity culture band-aid on a complex and cavernous existential spiritual and philosophical bullet wound.
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