May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Last year I gave my recommendations for YA books that have to do with mental health, so this year I thought I would do the same, but for TV!When feeling especially bad when it comes to my depression or anxiety, I find great comfort in what I watch. I find that a good movie can envelop you into a nice warm hug when you need it. For me, I love watching stuff that I personally relate to, something where I can see myself in a character or their experiences. I think TV can be more effective because you get to know characters and their backgrounds on a deeper level than with a 90 minute movie. However, some shows think they are representing mental health when they just show a character who is really sad and maybe they are immediately cured after all of two therapy sessions, but the truth is, its not that simple. So I tried to pick instances in shows that give viewers a more in depth look into the difficulties of having a mental illness.
So here are just a few recommendations for you to enjoy:
P.S. I guess there are technically spoilers in this list? So be aware of that.
You’re The Worst
This show has the most honest, unflinching portrayal of depression I’ve ever seen. It’s what got me into the show in the first place, after seeing stuff about the storyline on Tumblr. I couldn’t find a clip for when Gretchen says this, but I remember getting hit right in the gut when she tells this quote to Jimmy:
My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Now, I’ve only seen the first season of this show, but I remember the Internet kind of blowing up about how the show dealt with the main characters depression, anxiety, and hyper fixation, leading to a whole new diagnosis. This article from Self really nailed it.
In the show’s second season, Girls creator Lena Dunham inserted her own struggle with OCD and anxiety into the character of Hannah Horvath. It is revealed that Hannah struggled with it when she was young and it seems to be triggered again by a bad breakup and the time constraints of writing her book. The fact that this is pulled straight from the writer’s life, it comes off as being very authentic. For me it was a strong turning point for the show.
In all the craziness that is the excellent and—in my opinion—underrated show, Shameless, there are lots of different forms of mental instability being shown. I think the most important is middle son Ian and his bipolar disorder that he inherited from his mother. Having dealt with their mother in the past, the Gallagher family immediately know what’s going on when their brother begins to show signs of having extreme mania that quickly plummets into deep depression. They try to get him the help he needs, but he goes through a lot of setbacks over the course of the show’s nine seasons
Here are some other shows that I haven’t personally watched, but have heard nothing but great things in their portrayals of mental health: Lady Dynamite, Bojack Horseman, Maniac (all from Netflix)
Let me know of any other shows that you think deal with mental health in a very real way.