The word ‘mental’ carries so many stereotypes and stigma associated with it. For many people, mental illnesses are not illnesses or conditions that may warrant help but an attitude that needs to be corrected. “Get yourself together!” is a common refrain one hears and this doesn’t help a person who is unsure and confused about what he or she is feeling or why they are feeling that way. The media has been, for quite some time, highly unfair to people who have suffered thus. The portrayal of such conditions has been superficial and grossly inaccurate. However, some shows on TV have attempted to get this portrayal right. Here are 5 shows that got mental health right –
Frank Gallagher is a narcissistic alcoholic and a conman. He is also the father of six children but he is rarely there to parent them. His wife, diagnosed with bipolar disorder left the family many years ago and the eldest child, Fiona has had to raise her siblings by herself.
As is often the case with bipolar disorder, Ian, one of the siblings is later diagnosed with the same condition as his mother. Ian’s life of ‘high highs’ and ‘low lows’ and his struggle of dealing with them have been heart-wrenching.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Kimmy, portrayed by Ellie Kemper, was kidnapped as a teenage girl and inducted into a doomsday cult. She, along with three other women, was kept captive in an underground bunker for fifteen years by a reverend. Kimmy’s story is highly inspiring as she does everything to stand back up on her feet, not wanting to be seen as a victim.
Kimmy is an innocent and charming girl whose optimism is highly contagious. Her journey is not an easy one though, as she has to confront her inner demons, fears, and the trauma of everything that she went through.
Mom is about a mother-daughter duo, both of whom struggle with addiction. After years of having an estranged relationship with each other, they decide to get their life together by trying to stay sober and attending Alcoholics Anonymous.
Christy, the daughter, blames her mother for not being a good parent, and Bonny, her mother, says that she was brought up in a dysfunctional environment as well. A lot of blame is passed around but the two take responsibility and gradually and successfully turn their lives around. Of course, they had help on the way, from friends who struggled with addiction as they did, but that is one of the central themes and messages of the show- that we are never alone.
The story revolves around an anthropomorphic horse, named BoJack Horseman, who, in his prime was a star of a successful 90s sitcom. He is now planning a comeback to celebrity status with an autobiography meant to be written by a ghostwriter, Diane Nguyen.
BoJack’s story is a tragicomedy that depicts BoJack’s struggles with depression, addiction, and relationships. It’s a very realistic representation of what the struggle is like, without glossing over the dark and the ugly side of it.
Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation is primarily a comedy show or a ‘mockumentary’ with funny characters and moments that will leave you laughing silly. However, the way it has depicted mental health and how it affects a person through its ‘notoriously’ happy character Christ Traeger.
Chris was born with a heart condition and according to doctors, was not likely to live long. Chris came out a survivor with an overly positive and unnaturally optimistic attitude that masked his real struggles. Depression and mental health issues, as we see with Chris, rarely look the way we think they should look.