Don’t laugh, but I’ve been watching a bit of Beverly Hills 90210 in recent weeks. I’ve always enjoyed it in the summer months, especially the episodes at the Beverly Hills Beach Club. They just seem to transport me to the seaside. Anyhoo, I always knew Chip Johannessen had a big role in the show, but I did not know that Meredith Stiehm wrote for it, in particular, the one where David learns about his mom’s mental illness. Meredith has a sister who is bi-polar, right?

How can I laugh at you watching “a bit” of Beverly Hills 90210 when my first true TV love was The OC?

Meredith Stiehm does have a sister, Jamie, who is bipolar. She penned a viral op-ed in the New York Times in the weeks after season one aired describing how her experience influenced not only Carrie’s character but her manic episode in “The Vest.” Here is a choice passage:

And yet for all that, I feel the show’s creators, writers and producers, and Ms. Danes, have done us all a public service: perhaps, with the show’s glowing reception, Americans can finally talk openly about bipolar disorder.

Meredith’s interest in my condition is not, of course, limited to her work as a writer. After the manic episode landed me in the Johns Hopkins hospital years ago, Meredith stayed with me at home for a week to help me get back to the regular simplicity of sleeping and waking.

And suddenly it’s dawned on me (and, maybe it’s dawned on me previously and I’ve just forgotten) that Meredith Stiehm is the Maggie of this story. That has a lot of resonance so many years later, even as Meredith has not written for the show for two seasons. 

Your ask got me wondering what she’s been up to since she left the show after season five. IMDb and Google don’t show much, but she is on the board of directors for WGA West (with Chip) and had a seemingly important role in preventing a(nother) writers’ strike this past year