8 Times TV Did Mental Health Right

Updated: Feb 27, 2019


1. Lady Dynamite - Netflix


Lady Dynamite features comedian Maria Bamford playing a semi-autobiographical version of herself. In this fictional take on Maria's real life, Bamford is diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. Throughout the series, Bamford illustrates the funny, scary, and sometimes difficult ways in which her disorder impacts her life. Bamford's honestly and fragility are refreshing and startling, solidifying Lady Dynamite's spot on this list as one of the greatest comedic shows depicting mental health.


2. Russian Doll - Netflix


I can't say too much about this one without spoiling it, but I'll tell you this, it's worth all the hype. Russian Doll is a complete masterpiece. Somehow it manages to stand out as a thought-provoking and engaging series that is based on similar elements found in the 1993 hit, Groundhog's Day. Natasha Lyonne's character, Nadia, is a charming, reckless and beautiful cockroach, essentially living the same day over and over again. As her days begin to blend into one another, we begin to learn more about Nadia's past. The mystery unravels, and we begin to understand the true meaning of feeling stuck.


3. Rick and Morty - Comedy Central

Rick and Morty are pretty much the most popular guys in our universe, particularly amongst teenage boys. Rick is a mad scientist with an alcohol problem and a penchant for intergalactic adventure. Morty is his befuddled grandson that gets dragged along for the ride. Their relationship is both adorable and dangerous, lingering on co-dependent. Rick is a man that avoids inner conflict at any cost, he'd rather fight to the death, or turn himself into a real life pickle than go to family therapy. Rather than go through the rundown of all the incredible nuances within the Rick and Morty universe, I urge you to explore it, and see what you come up with. If you want to learn more about that pickle episode, check this out from Inverse - it's basically a thesis on Pickle Rick.


4. You're the Worst - FXX

You're the Worst camouflages itself as a seemingly shallow comedy about drinking and dating, then abruptly dives into a deep character study on mental health. Aya Cash plays Gretchen, a self proclaimed party girl dealing with lifelong clinical depression. Portrayed with equal parts grace and humility, Cash's characterization of clinical depression is totally raw and hauntingly genuine. As Gretchen so eloquently puts it, "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".


5. Bojack Horseman - Netflix

Here's another cartoon that nails it. Bojack Horseman is a Hollywood has-been. He's a horse with with a penchant for pills, booze and fame. Bojack has issues with substance abuse, self loathing and sexual addiction. His mommy issues are on a whole other level. Overall though, Bojack is the kind of guy, or in this case horse, you love to hate.


6. Shameless - Showtime

The Gallagher family has their fair share of problems, but doesn't every family? From substance abuse to Bipolar Disorder, the Gallagher's show us what it's really like to live with mental health issues, especially when you're living well below the poverty line. Need another reason to love this show? Shameless portrays common misconceptions about mental health and explore's them in an engaging and thoughtful way.


7. Maniac - Netflix

Imagine finding a pill that could cure you of all your mental health problems. In Maniac, they plan on doing just that. Set in a futuristic version of the 1980's, Maniac explores the underbelly of the pharmaceutical industry and the advent of FDA. Advances in medicine paired with slips into mania lead a team of scientists to test their hypothesis on people; ones who are literally at their wit's end. *Bonus points for Jonah Hill on his stunning performance as Owen, a young man diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia. Hill manages to portray this untrustworthy narrator with honor and class.


8. Crazy Ex Girlfriend - The CW

Rebecca may just be the first character on television to receive a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Recognized within the mental health community as one of the more difficult diagnoses to treat, Rebecca's characterization is truly a breath of fresh air. Even in her most difficult of times, Rebecca always manages to shows up courageously, always as herself. Through it all, Rebecca seeks help, develops self-awareness and takes her mental health into her own hands. It's a funny and enlightening performance by Bloom that earned her major recognition within the industry.


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© 2018 by Jessica Sherman, MA, LLPC.