HBO Documentary Examines Taconic State Parkway Tragedy and Supermom Myth

by Ariana Anderson

In the summer of 2009 Diane Schuler drove for two miles on the wrong side of the Taconic State Parkway, and crashed into an oncoming SUV, killing herself and seven others, including one of her children and three of her nieces. At the time of the accident, Diane was found to have a blood-alcohol content of .19% , more than double the legal limit, and a high level of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The only survivor is Schuler’s five-year-old son, who is left with oculomotor nerve palsy after the accident. When asked about what happened, he says, “Mommy’s head hurt. She couldn’t see.”

The tragedy received a lot of media attention for multiple reasons; not only was it amongst the worst accident’s in New York’s history, but people became obsessed with Schuler’s unexpected fault. Her friends and family insist that she had no history of substance abuse, yet are unable to offer any other explanation for what happened on that fateful July day. Schuler was a cable TV executive whom friends and family described as a caring, stable, “supermom”—a dangerous term if there ever was one.

There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane digs into her past; her mother abandoned her family when she was nine, which she never talked about, and she had a history of hiding her physical and emotional pain in order to maintain this perfect ‘supermom’ veneer. This is all made more interesting by the “bad mother” trope we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. Jezebel examined this last week in regards to the massive public response to Casey Anthony’s acquittal; we demand women with children to be perfect, and when they let us down, we are deeply disturbed.

Produced and directed by women, this documentary provides interviews with witnesses and Diane’s friends that have never been heard before, and examines all evidence to retell the events minute-by-minute. There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane will debut on HBO July 25th at 9pm ET/PT. Catch it again July 28th at 9:30am, July 30th at 3:45pm, August 2nd at 4pm and 12:30am, August 5th at 12:45pm and August 7th at 2pm. HBO2 will be playing it July 27th at 8pm, August 10th at 4:15am and August 17th at 1pm. For more information check out HBO’s website

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