Photo Source: Overshadowed/BBCThree
We live in a world consumed by body image and one in which eating disorders are hiding in plain sight. We know they’re there, but as with all mental health issues, we’ve never been sure how to go about ‘tackling’ them, meaning that much has been left unsaid and uncertain.
Up until last night, I fully believed in that last statement, however after attending a screening in Leeds for the newly released BBC3 drama ‘Overshadowed’, I feel a sense of relief that this is starting to change.
‘Overshadowed’ tells the story of a sixth form student Imogene, an aspiring Youtube vlogger who decides to pursue a healthier lifestyle, documenting it for her online audience.
The drama unfolds through a series of short ‘vlog’ style episodes and we are soon introduced to ‘Anna’, an advocate of Imogene’s health mission. Anna is a possessive and controlling character whose initial encouraging voice soon becomes a convincingly dark, manipulative and overwhelming presence in Imogene’s life.
I applaud the writers for this personification of anorexia; the illness is presented in its truest form due to the authenticity of the vlog-style production. Creating a separate character to represent the illness emphases the important fact that a person is not defined by their eating disorder; Imogene is one person, Anna another.
Eva O’Connor, who portrays the character of Anna and also co-wrote the series, has drawn on her own experience with anorexia and wants sufferers to see the illness as “something you can shed away and recover from”. She also touched on how diverse the illness is and despite staying true to her own story in ‘Overshadowed’, she stressed that it really can affect anyone and isn’t exclusive to gender, age, race or any other social factor.
Typically, media tends to focus on the physical side effects of eating disorders, yet here we are exposed to the effect it has on Imogene’s relationships with her family, friends and potential love interest. We see the strain her eating disorder puts on her physical well-being, but equally the angst for those closest to her as her behavior changes towards them.
Overall, I found ‘Overshadowed’ to be a thought-provoking series that provided its audience with a real insight into the world of someone suffering from anorexia. The producers tackled the issue with sensitivity, originality, and authenticity, ensuring that viewers were fully engaged with Imogene’s ordeal, in some cases feeling as though you’re right there with her, encouraging her as she moves forward into recovery.
I would urge anyone to watch this series as it delivers a realistic yet reassuring message that in spite of the ugly and utterly consuming nature of the illness, recovery is possible and there is much to look forward to. I am really excited to see what it’s producers Hildegard Ryan and Eva O’Connor come up with next, promising more content to tackle mental health issues.
‘Overshadowed’ is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer via the link below:
If you would like further information on anorexia or any other eating disorders please visit: