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5 TV Comedies That Have Helped Me With My Mental Health

These shows have a refreshing (and comforting!) take on mental illness.

ScanRail/ Getty Images
ScanRail/ Getty Images

Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

Suffering with a mental illness can seem like the loneliest experience in the world. Recently, however, a number of shows have worked to address this, giving a realistic portrayal of living with mental health conditions and proving that everyone is suffering in their own unique way.

I would highly recommend these shows for their accurate representations of mental illness and the effects it can have on the individual and those surrounding them. Surprisingly, all of them are comedies, proving that mental health problems can be addressed in a way that is not all doom and gloom, but one that is accepting and caring. 

1. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Mental illness and musicals may not seem to be the most natural partnership, but “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” brings the two together perfectly. With songs such as “A Diagnosis” and “Anti-depressants Are So Not A Big Deal,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” covers a myriad of issues with humor and compassion.

2. BoJack Horseman
Another unexpected mental health advocate is a show about a cartoon horse, BoJack Horseman, a washed-up former star of a 90s family sitcom, “Horsin’ Around.” Covering issues from death, addiction, and relationship trauma, BoJack Horseman explores some of the darkest parts of the human condition in a way that is deeply relatable, showing how mental illness can strike anyone, at any time.

3. Please Like Me
Sometimes mental illness in the media can be presented as a short-term concern, something that neatly wrapped up by the end of the episode. This could not be further from the truth. “Please Like Me” addresses this head-on, confronting suicide and depression in its pilot episode and making it a core theme across the whole of the series.

4. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
On the surface Kimmy Schmidt seems like a fun-filled, carefree character. However, she is the survivor of a very traumatic experience, trying to work to rebuild her life. For me, the program’s focus on moving forward and not letting your past define you was a real comfort after my darkest times.

5. Big Mouth
“Big Mouth” uses its medium as another animated TV show to anthropomorphize depression into a cat sitting on your chest. This was a perfect description of how the illness felt for me, representing how comforting it can initially feel to let your feelings of sadness over-whelm you but how those same feelings can quickly become stifling, weighing you down and disrupting your whole life.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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