11 Nov., 2020

The Australian TV series My Life is Murder has been renewed for another season (happy dance). This is Lucy Lawless’ most recent endeavor, which I dug up after binge-watching Xena, Warrior Princess, in the early weeks of the lockdown. Yes, of course I watched Xena when it was first released, but I had not seen it since (skipped the last two episodes this time around).

So, I went checking IMDb, and it told me that Lawless had done this series in Australia, and some subsequent Googling found that I could purchase it for viewing on my Smart TV. $19.99 for 10 1-hr episodes, which seemed pretty reasonable, especially since they’d be commercial-free.

The show is thusly described:

My Life is Murder follows the complex, contrary and compelling investigator Alexa Crowe, who can’t help fighting the good fight – whether it is solving murders or combating the small frustrations of everyday life. Fearless and unapologetic, Alexa’s unique skills and insights into the darker quirks of human nature allow her to provoke, comfort and push the right buttons as she unravels the truth behind the most baffling of crimes.

OK; the crimes aren’t all that baffling. But the plots are nicely comforting, for those of us who grew up with cop shows that featured wisecracks instead of weapons (I can alliterate too). The characters are compelling, which has less, I think, to do with the writing, than with excellent acting. This main character is as good a match for Lawless as Xena was, and the large weekly troupes of one-off characters are brilliantly cast—it’s like the show is British, or something.

What is most compelling to me, though, is that Lawless’ character is supposed to be an insomniac. The cause is not a mystery. She’s a widow (which is not a spoiler—we find this out pretty early on), and has not been sleeping since the death of her husband.

This makes her a chronic insomniac, and a genuine one, I guess. Going on two years is a pretty good run. You also have to wonder if there isn’t just a little more to it than mere grief, given the amount of time that has passed.

Which makes her doctor a total asshole, if you ask me. She sees him almost every episode, so practically every week, and he always asks her about her sleep, to which she replies that she gets “Three or four hours a night.”

???

THREE OR FOUR HOURS?

Cripes, I get more than that, and I’ve been sent for sleep studies, referred to specialists, and put on four different medications.

All Alexa’s doctor does is asks her if she wants to see a counselor, and refuses to prescribe “sleeping pills.”

Well, yeah, sleeping pills she doesn’t need—those are for people who can’t sleep when they change shifts, when their mother is moved to hospice, or they can’t get over jet lag.

When you have slept three or four hours a night for two years—which her doctor shouldn’t have let happen in the first place—you need a sleep study, and then a prescription based on the results of the sleep study. It might be an anti-convulsant; it might be an anti-psychotic; it might be a tricyclic antidepressant; it might be something like BuSpar or Lamictal, or Trazodone. But fer cripes’ sake, it needs to be something.

Sleeping three or four hours a night for weeks on end, let alone months, is not good for your heart—oh, wait—Alexa has already had an incident of atrial fibrillation. And still her doctor does nothing.

Even curioser (I mean, her doctor’s behavior isn’t right, but doctors who are assholes exist in the real world) is her total lack of symptoms, aside from the one heart incident.

To be fair, the show does capture the “staring into the uncharitable darkness” aspect of insomnia nicely, when they show her tossing around in bed, until she gives up, gets up, and bakes bread while playing video games as the dough rises. I have done exactly that. Exactly. I’ve gotten up in the middle of the night to put bagels up, or make the challah. I perfected a 3-shade marble rye, and even a REALLY good gluten-free sufganiyot recipe. I mean, seriously good. Good enough to serve to people who don’t need to eat things that are gluten free, that’s how good.

But what it never shows is insomnia slowing her down a lick during the day. She never loses her appetite or goes twitchy, and always manages to get a jog in each morning. Please.

What we must have here is a team of monumentally well-rested writers for artistic types. And possibly a case of what TV Tropes calls “Didn’t do the homework.”

I’ll be watching as soon as the season 2 is available in the US—binge-watching, if that’s a possibility. But don’t think this detail won’t continue to be a flea under my corset. Genuine, chronic insomnia isn’t shown on TV very often (transient insomnia is all the time), so I’d like it to be gotten right, but I suppose it would interfere too much with the story if she couldn’t make it out of the house because she was sick from lack of sleep.

Why make her an insomniac at all? I guess because she’s someone who is private with her feelings, and the idea is that no one really knows how deeply she’s in mourning for her husband, particularly after the amount of time that has passed. She mourns solely and silently in the little hours when no one is there to see, instead of in the bright light of day, when someone might be there to comfort her. That actually sums up her character pretty well.

Too bad insomnia just doesn’t work like that.

Published by Chava Freya

Insomnia is a brain-based disorder I’ve had since I was at least 16 years old. Anti-anxiety medicine doesn’t help, except when there’s external anxiety exacerbating the problem. Sleep hygiene is irrelevant, because it’s not the problem, although I have submitted to it five different times, including having sleep specialists actually come to my home and advise me on rearranging furniture, buying special pillows, forbidding TVs in the bedroom, telling me the bed was for nothing but sleep, sex and reading, and when that didn’t work, then nothing but sleep. Period. That was the biggest failure of all.

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