TV Review: Conviction Episode 104 “Mother’s Little Burden”

This show has many issues to begin with. The writing is clunky and at times awkward. The concept is a bit outlandish. The characters clearly aren’t written as much more than outlines. All of that said none of this is the fault of the actors. The actors actually do an amazing job with what they’re given to work with. 

However, this episode came with its own all new very specific problems. Massive problems that television writers should really know better than to cause by this point. 

The trope of the violent, uncontrollable autistic child has been done to death. And everytime it appears on television it causes more harm to the autistic children and their parents that exist in the real world. 

Conviction, for those unaware, is about a criminal investigation unit that looks into old cases where the convicted party may actually be innocent. 

In Mother’s Little Burden, the case they are investigating is that of a mother in prison for murdering her 12 year old autistic son. Her son, as you likely assertained from my previous statements, was aggressive and uncontrollable. He gave her bruises and black eyes on a regular basis. So, when he died of sodium poisoning after drinking a bottle of soy sauce she was the one to take the blame. 

Let’s always blame the mother is another trope I’ve had about enough of. 

The problem with tropes in tv shows is that they reinforce those things in people’s minds. You see it enough on TV then you’re quicker to believe it and even accuse it in real life. 

Now, I’m not saying that autistic children are never aggressive. I’m not saying that some don’t have violent meltdowns. I’m also not saying that mothers are never at fault for crimes committed against children. But…

It is not something that needs to keep appearing on television. These tropes are what causes fear in parents who are told their child is autistic. These tropes are what make doctors jump so quickly to blame mothers for everything and anything. And what makes everyone so quick to believe them. 

People hear things like this and they think it sounds reasonable that this mother would kill her child because he was autistic and aggressive. That isn’t something that should sound reasonable. That isn’t something people should be okay with appearing over and over on television either. 

Fiction isn’t just fiction. We watch and read so much of it that it becomes a part of our culture, a part of our biases and assumptions. Because of this, fiction needs to be held responsible for how it portrays things like autism and special needs parenting. 

We need more examples of special needs children who, while challenging, are not violent or impossible to control. That is the issue here, we don’t get enough media exposure of the wide gamut of possibilities with special needs children. They’re still children. And no two are alike. The media wants to show us one extreme (the violent special needs child) or the other (the autistic savant) and ignore the inbetween. Most special needs children exist in the inbetween. 

I think until fiction is portraying all of the middle ground as well they need to leave the extremes out of their storylines. 

And that wasn’t even the only thing wrong with this episode. It had many issues but that was the main one that got under my skin. 

All of that said, ill still watch the show. For all of it’s flaws including it’s extremely lazy writing it stillhas potential. The actors really are amazing. Hayley Atwell went from the lovable Agent Carter to Convicton’s Hayes Carlyle who may be one of the least likable characters I’ve ever seen in a crime drama. Emily Kinney uses her wide eyed innocence to great effect and the rest of the cast work wonders with their one dimensionally written characters. They basically spin gold from straw. 

I don’t like writing bad reviews. Which is why I haven’t written much about this show before. I am trying to be sure to be clear that it has potential and I love the actors. It just really needs new writers who don’t recycle the same crime cases and tropes over and over. Maybe that’s intentional since they’re supposed to be old cases but…if they’re going to do the same stories as other shows at least do a new spin on them. Give the amazing actors something better to work with. 


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