From an animated horseman who feels miserable to a teenager who has a Substance Use Disorder, characters who are dealing with mental health issues are now being widely portrayed on screen. In this day and age where we're continuously fighting the stigma about mental health, this kind of depiction isn't mere representation but more about educating the audience and helping those who are struggling to feel less alone.
Although there are TV shows that tried to depict mental illness, most of them only ended up with offensive stereotypes. That's why we're thankful that there are existing shows that give honest portrayals that handle this sensitive issue with utmost care. Here, we listed the five TV series that offer a more informed and realistic angle on mental health:
1. BoJack Horseman
An adult comedy-drama animated series set in a place where humans and anthropomorphic animal-people coexist, BoJack Horseman is about a horseman who peaked early and is trying to figure out what to do with his life now. One of the best things about this show is how well they portrayed his mental health issues realistically and respectfully. In this series, we see that no amount of wealth or fame can make you happy when your brain refuses to do so. There's a plethora of lines that are simply too relatable not to quote!
One of the teen shows that sparked a much-needed conversation about mental illness is Euphoria, a series about Rue who's diagnosed with substance use disorder (SUD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), general anxiety disorder, and bipolar disorder. She had these mental issues since she was a child, which led her to become dependent on substances to make the discomfort stop at any cost. The series helped a lot of viewers, especially teens, with similar experiences and assured us that struggling with your inner battles doesn't make you weak.
3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Before musical series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ended this year, viewers have stated how this show nailed portraying mental health issues starting with the main character Rachel Bloom who is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD.) Instead of getting discouraged, she made positive actions towards managing her mental health. They even made a song called "Sexy French Depression," which talks about how unpleasant it is that some people romanticize this serious condition.
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4. You're The Worst
The drama-comedy series You're The Worst follows the self-involved writer Jimmy and self-destructive PR executive Gretchen who attempt to have a relationship along with their friends Edgar and Lindsay. It's a series that explores mental illness by masquerading it as a romantic comedy with characters who are dealing with unsettled minds. Gretchen is diagnosed with clinical depression, while Edgar suffers from PTSD after his time spent in combat. The series divulge into their conditions by making it comical yet humane for the viewers to understand more how one event can trap a person in a negative world.
5. Orange Is The New Black
Orange Is The New Black revolves around Piper Chapman who's sentenced to 15 months in a minimum-security women's federal prison after transporting a suitcase full of drug money for her girlfriend. Aside from showing what it's like for women to live in prison, it also presented how this can lead to a variety of mental illnesses like suicide, drug abuse, PTSD, depression, and paranoia. One of the characters who suffered from this is Suzanne who has severe mental issues, but unfortunately, she isn't provided the psychological care she needs.
Instead of taking the usual route that most shows do, these series provided a realistic glimpse at the struggles of people with mental illness go through. It isn't pretty, but it feels accurate to many who have faced similar conditions to the characters of these shows. We hope more shows that have truthful portrayals will be produced to continue to shine a light to this important cause that our generation is currently fighting for.
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