“I think it’s really important to talk about these issues, particularly in our community. We have so little representation on the screen,” co-creator and co-star Josh Feldman said Thursday at a panel for the series the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour.
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He went on to say that his character has always had unresolved issues surrounding his family and childhood that he isn’t managing, and that, ultimately, his past is haunting his future, a manifestation of alcoholism and also depression.
Co-creator and co-star Shoshannah Stern added that though mental illness is an issue that effects everyone, that it manifests in special ways within the Deaf community. “There’s no such thing as deaf anxiety,” Stern said. “There’s no deaf-triggered anxiety. There’s just people with anxiety. ‘Do I understand people? Do people understand me? Did I miss something?’ I have anxiety that is triggered by the world I have to live in.”
It is anxiety, she concludes, with an extra layer of anxiety.
These are stories that both Stern and Feldman are uniquely qualified to tell, given their own deaf status. But even that has nuance, Stern told the assembled journalists.
In the second episode of the upcoming season, written by Stern, her character Kate gets into a disagreement with her mother over wearing hearing aids, an issue that the actress herself deals with in her own life.
People who don’t have hearing issues often view things on a binary, with individuals either able to hear everything or nothing, Stern explained.
“I often feel like I struggle a bit more than people like Michael’s character, who were always deaf,” she said. “I can see the way people look at my hearing aids and think, ‘You hear or you don’t.’”
“But just because I’m able to hear you sometimes, doesn’t mean that I will all the time,” she concluded.
The second season of “This Close” will premiere on Sept. 12.