Uncertain over problem eating

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Andre Braugher, right, eating as usual.Georgie and I have been watching, and enjoying, "Men of a Certain Age," the Ray Romano/Andre Braugher/Scott Bakula show on TNT. I think they have three believable characters, none of them perfect by any means, but textured, sympathetic, and believable.

But a plotline in the most recent episode stumbled a bit, on a topic I think worth raising.

Braugher's character, Owen, has an eating problem that has risen to the level of crisis; we learn via his children that he has diabetes. But he has continued to eat — off his kids' plates, from the donut station at work, and at night after his family goes to sleep. Good story line, ripped if not from the headlines than from typical daily life.

The problem was in the pat plot resolution, which isn't unusual for TV, even slightly-cut-above TV. Owen's older kid takes his dad's video camera and camps out overnight, waiting to catch him eating. When Owen's wife points out that he went undercover because he's afraid his dad will die early, Owen has a come-to-Daddy moment and promises he'll eat more carefully in the future.

Maybe it IS that easy for Owen, to just make a promise, turn over a new leaf, and that's that. But I think that strains belief. Though it's all in backstory, Owen has presumably already been told he's threatening his life and well-being by his eating, and he has not only not stopped, he's taken his eating underground so he won't be bothered while he's doing it.

When I was in rehab, I overlapped with a fellow who was medically characterized as suicidal for doing the same thing — having a limb-and-life-threatening disease and continuing to act in the same old way.

This is grave business — pun intended — but the writers kissed it off with a promise. I suspect we won't come back to it; to them, problem solved. But if they continue with their paradigm of using typical life as fodder for drama, he could very well prove to be unable to keep his promise, no matter how much he loves his son.

Author and wellness innovator Michael Prager helps smart companies
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