It's TV Week! Focus on past TV/Movie plots that highlighted hearing health

It's TV Week! Focus on past TV/Movie plots that highlighted hearing health

watching-tvHearing loss it the third most prevalent chronic condition in adults. However, representations of hearing health are rarely seen in pop culture with the exception of commercials for hearing devices. While there may be the occasional reference to a hearing impaired individual, it is often not in a positive light. Given the prevalence of hearing issues (hearing loss, ringing in the ears, etc), and the fact that many individuals will experience a difficulty with their hearing at some point in their lives, the absence of postive portrayals is concerning.

This week we will be focusing episodes of television shows, particular characters, and movie plots that portrayed some aspect of hearing health.


  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: in 2003-2004, CSI became one of the first television shows with a main character experiencing hearing loss. At the end of the second season, the lead CSI, Gil Grisson, was diagnosed with otosclerosis. Otosclerosis is a condition that causes progressive hearing loss due to the calcification of the stapes in the middle ear. Grissom’s experience was well portrayed in demonstrating how an individual may cope with hearing loss, how the change in hearing affects different aspects of the character’s life (including work), and how it can affect the individual’s interactions if not managed properly.


  • Blue Bloods: in a guest star appearance, Brian Kerwin was wearing his real-life hearing aids on screen opposite Tom Selleck. While the hearing loss was not part of the plot line, it was great to see that the hearing loss was not drawn attention to, rather just a normal part of the character, much like glasses are to many actors. This episode aired on March 13, 2013.


  • Keeping up with the Kardashians: on June 23, 2013, Bruce Jenner stuggles with the family dynamics as they pressure him to get his hearing tested. Bruce’s family finally convince him to go for a hearing test, and the episode documents his experience during the hearing test and while he is diagnosed with a high frequency hearing loss.

 When was the last time you noticed reference to hearing in a television show? Did you feel it was an accurate portrayal?

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