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6 movies and shows that got mental illness right

Updated on:14 September 2020, 08:52am IST
Be it Hollywood or Bollywood, the issue of mental health is either ignored or exaggerated. These six shows and movies from recent times are changing that.
Chetna Pattnaik
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mental health
A rare occurence in Bollywood, we owe Shah Rukh Khan and this film for normalizing the idea of going to therapy. Image courtesy: YouTube
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Even with OTT platforms ruling the charts, relatable content is not that common. In fact, finding an accurate representation of certain ground realities of your life on your screens can be a task. So, when it comes to issues like mental health, we usually find a huge deal of exaggeration, either positive or negative, both of which are equally delusional.

However, a lot of the newer shows have been making an effort to understand and
humanize mental illnesses and normalize the conversation. Wondering what these gems are? Well, here’s a list to get you started:

1. This Is Us
This Is Us is an American drama series which homes a very well-handled
depiction of anxiety. In its first season, one of the show’s main characters, Randall is seen having a panic attack. The episode beautifully depicts blurring of his vision leading to a certain sense of detachment from the body which is a very common phenomenon in panic attacks.

This portrayal of a panic disorder brought on by stress is truly apt and even mental health professionals seem to agree to it.

2.  BoJack Horseman
Netflix’s BoJack Horseman tells the story about a washed-up 90s TV star, BoJack, and how he struggles with addiction, maintaining his celebrity status and relationships.

The central character, BoJack, is someone with a scarred childhood living with anxiety and depression. The show actually shows the ugly side of depression, rather than trying to give a rose-tinted picture of it. You watch things falling apart for BoJack and not immediately falling back to place. You watch him feeling numb and empty, and not caring about anyone or anything; and you also watch him care too much about somethings at times, to an extent where he isn’t able to function at all.

3. You’re the Worst
This comedy-drama revolves around a romantic relationship between a self-involved writer Jimmy and self-destructive PR executive Gretchen. The second season of the show extensively talks about Gretchen’s clinical depression. It shows how it affects her relationship and believe it or not, the portrayal is bang on.

While the series maintains its tone of humour, it doesn’t fail to talk about real issues, especially when Gretchen explains her illness to the self-absorbed Jimmy, saying:

“OK, so here’s an interesting thing that you don’t know about me: I am clinically depressed. It’s been going on my whole life so I’m actually really good at handling it. It strikes me whenever and I have no idea why, but it’s fine. I’m sorry I never told you — slipped my mind! And who knows? With the right attitude, this could be a really fun adventure for everyone. So, the only thing I need from you is to not make a big deal of it and be OK with how I am and the fact that you can’t fix me.”

4. Dear Zindagi
Now, this film is the first of its kind that Bollywood has ever seen. Most of the story
progresses at a psychiatrist’s office. You watch the protagonist, Kiara, visit a
therapist simply because she couldn’t sleep for three days. And that’s a great step
towards normalizing the idea of therapy. In its due course, she learns a great deal about her early relationships with her family and how they have turned out to affect other relationships in her life.

5. Please Like Me
This one is based on the real-life experiences of the star and director of the show Josh Thomas. Known for its spot-on depictions of psychiatric hospitalization, panic attacks and depression, this Australian show does a commendable job in showing the ground realities of mental illnesses and the situations that often arise if you have on.

6. Parks and Recreation
Primarily known for its funny characters and comedic timing, this show has a very
unique style of representing depression.  They do it through the notoriously “happy” character, Chris Traeger who spirals into depressive episodes out of nowhere, within minutes. This kind of character is very essential to show that depression doesn’t necessarily have to be visible on somebody’s face.

If you haven’t already watched these shows/movies, we say you add them to your
watchlist because they deserve to be watched.

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Understanding fitness the hard way, Chetna has finally learnt to strike a balance between her protein shake and her beer and making room for her writing desk and her gym at the same time.