“Baywatch” was one of the most-watched series of the ’90s. At the height of its popularity, over a billion people logged on to see its attractive characters in swimsuits saving swimmers. From its soulful sung theme song to its oft-parodied slow-motion scenes, “Baywatch” has left an unforgettable impression on pop culture.
In the season 4 episode “Mirror, Mirror”, Carrie-Anne Moss plays the glamorous and confident Mattie Brown and her more reserved sister Gwen. The two romantically pursue lifeguard Mitch Buchannon (David Hasselhoff). As they fight for him in their trailer, it is revealed that Gwen and Mattie are the same person. When Mitch arrives for dinner with the sisters, Mattie drugs him and imprisons him in a flooded basement. He almost drowns until he convinces Gwen to become the dominant personality and set him free. Before Gwen is transported to a mental health facility, she acts like Mattie and sneers grimly at the end of the episode.
“Mirror, Mirror” perpetuates outdated and harmful stereotypes that people with mental health problems are dangerous. While the episode is problematic, Moss’s intense and captivating performance is worthy of praise, with this actress’ effortless portrayal of both characters conveying the breadth and depth of her talent.
If you or someone you know has a mental health problem, please contact the Crisis text line by sending HOME to 741741, call National Alliance on Mental Illness at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit National Institute of Mental Health website.