Afflicted is one of the latest Netflix Original releases. The docu-series looks into the lives of people who seem to be suffering from allergies to human progress. What the hell does that mean? Let’s take a look at some of the people behind the show.
The People of Afflicted
Bekah, a self-described witch and psychic, suffers from mould allergies and had to move to the desert with her partner.
Carmen suffers from electromagnetic hypersensitivity, meaning she’s overcome with aches and pains when in close proximity to WiFi, powerlines or fluorescent lights.
Jamison is dealing with Chronic Fatigue or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, leaving him bed-ridden for two years.
Jake is a composer who scored the animated hit, Final Space, also available on Netflix. He suffers from chronic Lyme disease and as a result was unable to interact with people, suffered from personality loss along with light and sound sensitivity.
Pilar, another woman from Afflicted, was subjected to a natural gas leak for over three years. As a result, she was left with a host chemical sensitivities.
The series’ director doesn’t just tell the stories of the afflicted, but also the turmoil caused with their network of friends and family and this is where my personal inner conflict kicked off.
The Difficulty With Afflicted
It’s hard to relate to some of the people in the show because their cases either seem unlikely or incredibly unfortunate and certainly fall into the category of ‘lesser known afflictions’. Carmen, who is a generally energetic and likeable person, leaves her husband behind after years of his support to seek out a better place to live, free from electromagnetic interference. Jake is an extremely likeable person but the director doesn’t shy away from showing how difficult his father finds the situation.
The real difficulty with Afflicted comes with Pilar. While her case seems genuine, the director doesn’t hold back in showing us a dark side to her personality. She openly admits she is no longer in love with her husband but is happy to let him help her if it means he feels like they still have a relationship. A quick look on Reddit shows what people think of her.
There’s also one more glaring issue…
Are the People of Afflicted Sick?
Afflicted looks at the stories of very real people who believe they are sick but their afflictions constantly come under scrutiny. When describing one person’s affliction, the on-screen caption states “she believes she suffers from”, which immediately forces the viewer to question the afflicted’s story. The people in the show also do make some questionable decisions themselves, like Bekah who turns down a free $25k treatment plan which promises to cure her.
This left many wondering if these people are suffering from mental health issues more than physical medical issues. If true, this opens up a world of problems for Netflix who are now exploiting the stories of these very real people. One thing is for certain, the people from the show have no doubts about their illnesses:
Really disheartening that people think Afflicted is about psychological illnesses. #MECFS and #LymeDisease are definitely not that. To those who think otherwise… pic.twitter.com/UfPNDFo7ps
— Jamison Hill (@NotTheWhiskey) August 11, 2018
Afflicted: The Verdict
I binge-watched this docu-series in one sitting. It’s compelling viewing, but I’m not proud of that. It’s a human safari and whether or not they are physically ill or mentally ill, I’m not so sure the series was created with the best interest of the people in mind.
Is it right to have people with either physical medical conditions or mental health issues being exposed to people ripping them apart on Reddit?
Shows like this need to arrive at a conclusion for the people involved. There needs to be a resolution or else it’s just entertainment at someone else’s expense. Afflicted left me questioning a few things but not the people from the show.
Since publishing, the brother of Bekah, Nick who also features in the series, has been in touch with me to clarify some of the misinformation around Bekah’s case. He clarified that Bekah turned down the free treatment plan upon the guidance of another doctor, Dr. Neil Nathan. Dr. Nathan had run several tests to confirm Bekah’s condition and also advised “there’s very little evidence to support stems cells as an effective treatment for severe mold sensitivity” and “had Bekah “simply” had Chronic Lyme Disease, she would have taken the treatment without a second thought”.
Nick also highlighted that the Netflix crew had filmed statements explaining all of this but they omitted them from the final cut.
Nick’s not alone in criticising the Netflix crew for how the show’s final edit portrays the afflicted:
Where’s the outrage in this piece? … #Afflicted is NOT a “very necessary series.“ It could have been but the producers chose sensationalism over science. https://t.co/OQd7rLgBwu
— Jamison Hill (@NotTheWhiskey) August 14, 2018