Eczema, a constellation of conditions that makes a person’s skin dry, itchy, red and scaly, affects an estimated 30 million Americans. It can shame and isolate people who have it.
And right now, the disease is having a moment in the sun thanks to its major role in HBO’s “The Night Of,” a crime drama mini-series that features a character who is heavily defined by having eczema.
Played by John Turturro, lawyer John Stone is a disrespected “bottom feeder” attorney who usually hangs around NYPD precincts waiting for easy cases. He catches the trial of a lifetime when he wins the trust of Nasir Khan, a Pakistani-American college student accused of the grisly rape and murder of a white woman from the Upper West Side.
While Stone investigates, questions witnesses and visits Khan in prison, he’s also constantly having to soothe his inflamed skin. It’s mostly on his feet, but it’s creeping up his legs and has spread to his neck and back. Peter Moffat, the writer who created the U.K. series on which “The Night Of” is based, has eczema himself and wrote it into the original show, but U.S. writers Richard Price and Steven Zaillian said they expanded eczema’s role in their version after doing more research on it. In a panel, Price called the disease a “metaphor for the frustrations of finding a solution and the entire judicial system.”