Help My Patients was one of the first ever entirely fiction-based video blogs. Produced by Noah Cooper and Dan Fichter of ReelBlogs, which has also created the popular vlog Bath Tub Yoga, the show get viewers involved by letting them diagnose four malcontent patients of the hapless and fictional Dr. Fletcher (played by Fichter), whose tagline is: “You say unethical, I say resourceful.” Launched in November 2005, the site’s mockery of contemporary psychological overanalyzation and overmedication ran until late February 2006.
The episodes, which all run under five minutes, are broken down by day, since each of the four patients gets overanalyzed in Dr. Fletcher’s office once a week. Mondays belong to Helen, a young girl whose biggest flaw is attributing everything to Freud. Tuesdays are Marty’s, a man mourning his seven-years-dead collie. Wednesdays bring us Howie, a Republican strategist, whose split personality is Nathan, a Democrat who seeks to disrupt his work. Fridays round out the week with Gary, an OCD patient who refuses medication. A new clip was aired each week and viewers were able to submit diagnoses and recommendations to the doctor. If you missed that the scenes are all meticulously scripted and that no doctor in his right mind would actually air real footage of patients, hopefully you’ll notice the acting credits page. Considering some of its sponsors were the American Red Cross, UNICEF, and Save the Children, it’s understandable that some people might think it’s a legitimate, psychotic psychiatrist’s website. That said, gullible viewers were more than encouraged to watch. Most of them found their hilariously serious responses posted on the site and some even had their medicinal recommendations suggested to the patient on-camera during the show’s run.
Part of the fun here is watching the doctor completely misinterpret his patients’ problems, which are pretty minor in scope. When Gary describes getting a lap dance from an ugly stripper and runs out of the club mid-dance, the doctor interprets this as a show of kindness resulting as a byproduct of his hastily diagnosed OCD. Or when Helen, who’s only problem is that she overanalyzes herself almost as much as her psychotherapist does, is told that her dreams mean that she is seriously mentally impaired and can only be helped through hospitalization.