Dismantling stigma: France Psoriasis disrupts shame in popular culture

15 June 2020


Scènes de ménage (“Household scenes”, an adaptation of the Spanish Escenas de matrimonio) is a French TV sitcom. It features short, light, comedic scenes between couples, aired twice every weekday on the M6 channel. The sitcom is very popular and has many viewers.

On Monday, April 20th, Scènes de menage released a sequence mentioning psoriasis. Unfortunately, this sequence did not portray psoriasis in a positive light. In fact, many at France Psoriasis found the scene inappropriate. In the episode, a wife tells her husband about a conversation with a fellow passenger when her train broke down earlier that day. In the wife’s words, the woman seated next to her has “la gueule pleine de psoriasis,” a very vulgar expression to say that she has a “face full of psoriasis” (the word “gueule” refers to an animal’s face). Worse still, at the punchline of the sketch, the wife declares that she refused to touch the woman when they parted, then bursts out in cruel laughter.

Pierre Charle of the Board of France Psoriasis commented, “This scene destroys all our efforts to explain and convince that psoriasis is not contagious.”

France Psoriasis reacted on the morning of Tuesday, April 21st with an appeal to CSA (the National Audiovisual Council). Many members of IFPA’s international psoriasis community have also sent letters of support. By that same evening, the problematic sequence was removed from the M6 website and replay offers.

According to Vanda Marijanovic Gillon of France Psoriasis and EUROPSO, “[The sketch was] surely not helping at all in fighting stigma. ‘Counterproductive’ could be a better word. In fact, I really believe that nobody wanted to harm anybody, but I doubt the general public’s capacity to stop and think of our awkward and visible, yet unknown condition. My idea was to use the situation and to turn it around in our favor by obtaining some public space and time to talk about psoriasis: make some noise, make some fuss! That is why I suggested not only to accept the cutting of the sequence, but also to request the diffusion of a message explaining its retrieval.”

France Psoriasis has yet to receive further response from M6.

France Psoriasis logo
Florian weichelt vi Z51 Ogs Ur A unsplash

Photo by Florian Weichelt