Should I Watch ABC’s Black Box?

Catherine Black (Kelly Reilly) on ABC's Black Box
Black Box (Photo: Patrick Harbron / ABC)

Absolutely not. ABC’s new drama Black Box is completely oblivious to what mental illness really is and a poor imitation of several other shows. Here’s a list of what you should watch instead.

Sarah D. Bunting over at Previously.tv has the definitive takedown of what makes ABC’s new drama series Black Box so terribly awfully horribly no good very bad. The short version: it is suuuuuuper hacky. I mean, the main character’s name is Black, she’s a neurologist with neurological issues (so her insight regarding the “black box” of the brain is…something), and medication functions like a light switch.

Black Box is tone deaf to the point of being highly offensive. Rather than waste your time watching this, you should watch the shows this borrowed from heavily.

  • House, M.D. — Guess what’s now streaming on Netflix? The Fox medical CSI program was all about diagnosis of unusual diseases and conditions. I may have screamed at the TV last night “It’s not lupus!” when it was discovered one of the patients of the week had a brain tumor.
  • 30 Rock Season 1 Episode 10: “The Rural Juror” — Jenna stars in the film adaptation of Kevin Grisham’s The Rural Juror. She plays southern lawyer Constance Justice. We don’t get to see any footage, but Liz’s critique includes the tidbit that Tony Hawk can’t play blind. Maybe he’ll have an upcoming guest role?
  • Scrubs — Love intrest/sleazeball Dr. Bickman is a neurological version of The Todd. Only I don’t think he was intended as comic relief?
  • Revenge (Season 1) — The wigs! The poorly rendered green screens! The over-emoting! Whereas Revenge is supposed to be super-soapy, Black Box was allegedly trying to be thoughtful.
  • Homeland (Season 1) — Showtime’s terrorist drama has already tread a lot of the territory Black Box is attempting to cover. I mean, neither show really understands how mood stabilizers and other medication actually work (or often times, don’t), but at least Carrie doesn’t start dancing to the jazz music playing in the background.

Be sure to blackball Black Box.

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv