In Sickness and In Health
Lesley Ann Warren (Family of Spies) stars in In Sickness and In Health as a Texas woman with multiple sclerosis. Weak and in a wheelchair, she needs someone to care for her during the day, and her husband (Steel Magnolias‘ Tom Skerritt) hires a neighborhood woman played by China Beach‘s Marg Helgenberger. In the visual code of network TV movies, the instant Helgenberger makes her entrance in a tight tank top, we know what the theme of this piece is going to be: Husband falls in love with Caregiver.
The lovers suffer great guilt but pursue their affair because, as Skerritt says to Helgenberger, ”I just can’t stand the thought of losing you.” We’re supposed to feel pity for everyone: the helpless wife, of course, but also the husband (because he hasn’t enjoyed physical intimacy in a long time), and also the neighbor (because she’s basically good-hearted and terribly lonely as well). But the script, by coproducer Joyce Eliason, takes such care to make everyone equally guilty and miserable that the characters cancel each other out, and we’re left with a slow, dreary little drama. D