When I had cable, I made a bad habit out of binge watching medical realty shows on TLC and Discovery. I really could not get enough of shows about mystery illnesses, extreme surgeries, and rare conditions. The shows were utter trash--poorly edited, melodramatic for no reason, and filled with a false sense of artificial hope. Does it really matter if the subject revealed to be dead by the end of the special one time got dropped off in the shallow end of a pool and rolled around for bit? Not to be insensitive, but I'm not the one who decided to counteract 50 minutes of misery--hospital visits, medicinal montages, recollections of the worst moments in their lives, high risk surgery, blatant inaccessibility and suffering out in public--with a trip to the community center for poorly staged celebration of little triumphs.
The shows did at least attempt to impart medical knowledge in this package. The editing style was to create an entertaining or engaging show. You learned a little bit about their lives--hobbies, friends, lovers, families--but also learned about the history of the conditions, treatments, and state of research. The melodramatic scoring and forced personal triumph narrative were necessary evils to get nationwide exposure to these people and their medical conditions. The participants obviously agreed to be filmed, but I don't think they agreed to be treated like a modern day freak show.
Afflicted is a documentary-style reality TV series on Netflix about people living with chronic illnesses. You can probably tell where I sit on the series by that introduction. It's terrible.