According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there are more than 46 million people struggling with mental illness every year. Here are just five shows that don’t rely on cliches and stereotypes when writing about them.
You might not expect a superhero show to have a painful, relatable depiction of mental illness, but that’s exactly what happened with Jessica Jones. The protagonist was traumatized from her previous abduction at the villain’s hands, and overcoming her post-traumatic stress disorder was just as central to the plot as stopping the villain when he reemerged from hiding.
Shameless is a loud, raunchy show that doesn’t usually aim for accuracy, but one storyline broke the mold with a surprisingly sensitive portrayal of mental illness. It had a fan favorite character slowly developing a bipolar disorder that he inherited from his mother, and it was notable for introducing a mental illness to a neurotypical character rather than having that mental illness as an intrinsic trait.
This Is Us
This Is Us follows the trials and tribulations of an interconnected family across three generations. It’s never been shy about tackling tough topics like grief, depression and addiction, but one scene in the first season gathered particular acclaim for an accurate depiction of a panic attack. Even health psychologists were praising the scene on social media.
BoJack Horseman is about a washed-up reality star who struggles with mental illness after leaving the limelight. He just so happens to be a talking horse. Despite the weirdness of the premise, BoJack Horseman has garnered critical acclaim for its exploration of topics like depression, addiction, self-loathing and self-destructive behavior.
Beneath the futuristic glamor of its high-tech hacking world, Mr. Robot does a lot to empathize with its mentally ill protagonist. The audience is allowed to witness every difficult moment of his depression, anxiety, loneliness, isolation and disassociation, and he doesn’t get a break from them just because he has plot-related things to do. He carries his mental illness with him throughout the series.
These are just a few shows that deal with mood and personality disorders in an honest, accurate way. There are many more, but if you’re looking for somewhere to start, consider these five.