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The Chilling Truth Behind Apple TV Series

Apple TV’s The Crowded Room has been captivating audiences throughout its run during this summer season. With an intricate plot, twists and turns, as well as huge revelations that dismantle over half the episodes explored during the latter half of the season, the series has made its way to the top of many viewers’ lists. An all-star cast elevates the show with big names such as Tom Holland, Emmy Rossum (best known for her role in Shameless), and the wide-ranged Amanda Seyfried. However, what makes the viewing of this series truly monumental is the real-life inspirations behind it. 


The Crowded Room follows the titular life of Danny Sullivan, portrayed by Tom Holland. Accused of a crime he did not commit, the story begins with Sullivan in confinement. Trying to explain his friend’s involvement in a targeted shooting that left many wounded, pieces slowly begin to fall into place – revealing a disconnect between two paradoxical truths. Sullivan says he did not commit the crime. Bystanders say he was the only one there. Both are true. In this landmark case, Danny Sullivan is acquitted of the charges brought against him, as it is ruled he suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder. 


The Apple TV standout is loosely inspired by the case of Billy Milligan. While The Crowded Room follows the events that unfold after a failed shooting (then going into depth about Sullivan and what led to his multiple personalities), the real-life inspiration is even more chilling. Chanel Dubofsky writes, 


“In 1977, at the age of 22, Billy Milligan was arrested for the kidnapping, robbery, and rape of three women on the campus of Ohio State University, all of which took place between October 14 and October 26… After Milligan's face was selected out of a series of mug shots by one of the Ohio State victims, he was imprisoned, assigned a public defender, and given a series of psychiatric evaluations. It was during these sessions that Milligan told investigators that it was his other personalities who committed the crimes. Milligan said ‘Ragen,’ a 23-year-old with a Slavic accent lacking in empathy, had robbed the women, and ‘Adalana,’ a 19-year-old lesbian, had raped them. Overall, psychiatrists determined that Milligan had 10 personalities and suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.” 


One of the more vital differences between the show and the real-life counterpart that makes people more sympathetic to Danny Sullivan is that he was unaware of his diagnosis, whereas Billy Milligan could assign blame to the various crimes. 


Although the show is, in its essence, fictional, it educates people on DID as a whole, which may prove vital in deeply understanding the extreme circumstances behind it. Chanel Dubofsky also includes, 


“DID is a diagnosis most commonly activated by trauma in early childhood, in which one disconnects from themselves or their environment to distance themselves from the experience(s) of trauma. In Milligan's case, the stressor was believed to be the sexual and physical abuse he suffered at the hands of his stepfather, Chalmer Milligan.”


If one message is taken away from both the series and life of Billy Milligan, it is that we have to protect children, no matter our ties to those that prey on them.

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Tags: #AppleTV #tomholland #thecrowdedroom #DID #BillyMilligan


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