“I feel a connection to BoJack that I have never felt for another fictional character. I feel REPRESENTED by him.”
In fact, there was a wide variety of mental illnesses represented, including eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, PTSD, depression, and bipolar disorder — all told in a sensitive and accurate way. Take a look at their great recommendations below!
BoJack Horseman’s depression in pretty much the entire series, but especially in the episode “Stupid Piece of Sh*t.”
After watching it, I feel a connection to BoJack that I have never felt for another fictional character — I feel REPRESENTED by him. Nothing has made me gasp for breath more than instantly recognizing that self-loathing, manic inner-dialogue from BoJack. When there’s a monster in your head telling you to hate yourself, it’s very loud, and it drowns everything else out. It’s a shameful, devastating experience I never thought I would see depicted on television. I think this episode is a wonderful tool for people struggling with severe anxiety and depression who are desperate to understand themselves.
I made my mom sit down and watch this episode of BoJack Horseman, and she asked me why I would willingly watch something so awful. I told her that this was the first time I've seen an accurate portrayal of what my depression does to me almost every single day, and after years of her undervaluing my feelings, she finally understood.
—Rose Hedberg, Facebook
Ian and Monica’s different (but also very similar) ways of living with bipolar disorder in Shameless.
The characters of Ian and Monica on Shameless have always been really well done. I have bipolar disorder, too, and I appreciate that the show presents the illness with a sensitivity and frankness I haven’t seen in any other show or movie. I won’t give any spoilers, but both characters deal with things in different ways, yet somehow manage to be a lot alike.
Showtime / Via Netflix
Rainbow’s postpartum depression in the “Mother Nature” episode of Black-ish.
The Black-ish episode where Rainbow suffers from postpartum depression. I have a 1-year-old and I spent the first six months of her life depressed. This episode not only resonated with how I felt but also made me see things from my husband's perspective.
ABC / Via abc.go.com
Mickey’s struggle with addiction in the show Love.
The character Mickey from the Netflix show Love was an extremely relatable (and sometimes frustrating) portrait of many of my struggles with mental illness. I had never before seen a young female character realistically struggle with the highs and lows of addiction, and the complex personality issues that accompany this struggle. She made me feel sane and understood, and helped me realize that addicts aren’t always obviously struggling to the outside world.
Netflix / Via fi.pinterest.com
And the path of addiction that Kevin went down in This Is Us.
This season of This Is Us touched on an important point with Kevin: that anyone can get addicted to opioids, and how easy it can be to get them legally from a doctor and how that's a HUGE problem. I thought it did a really good of job of showing the cause of addiction (getting injured and getting a legal prescription), the root problem behind it (pain from his father's death), and the effects it can have on your relationship with other people and yourself.
NBC / Via toofab.com
Kimmy’s ability to live a pretty regular life despite having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
It sounds silly but I REALLY appreciate that The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt doesn’t portray her as being depressed or down on herself all the time despite her obvious PTSD. Kimmy is still Kimmy at her core despite the trauma that rears its ugly head from time to time. She doesn’t come off as weak or broken at all.
Netflix / Via buzzfeed.com
The development of Esme’s borderline personality disorder (BPD) in Degrassi: Next Class.
Degrassi: Next Class, with the undiagnosed and untreated BPD of Esme Song. I have the same illness, and luckily, I got help. But seeing her inch slowly toward a breakdown until she finally explodes in season four has killed me. She shows a high number of symptoms and worrisome behavior but instead of helping her, most people are content with blaming her — something that's common for people with BPD. I'm afraid I would have probably ended up like her if I hadn't tried to get help.
Entertainment One / Via gramunion.com
Ilana’s seasonal affective disorder in the Broad City episode “S.A.D. Lamp/Happy Lamp.”
Broad City had an episode this past October called “S.A.D. Lamp/Happy Lamp,” and it was so fucking spot-on about seasonal depression without being tasteless or generalizing. Seeing a character like Ilana — who is usually so ENERGETIC and bubbly — dealing with depression and trying all these things to cope with it was super refreshing and real and I THINK ABOUT THIS EPISODE A LOT!!!!
Comedy Central / Via cc.com
The thought processes that come with having an eating disorder, as seen in the movie Feed.
The 2017 film Feed got eating disorders SO RIGHT that it was a bit difficult for me to watch. From the voice in your head that can be hard to separate from yourself to the feeling of taking control of your life through ED, this film did an amazing job of putting the mental processes of eating disorders on screen.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Via youtube.com
Elliot’s depression (and how he deals with suicidal thoughts) in Mr. Robot.
Mental illness has always been a vital part of the show, but the episode after the climax of this season truly nailed the struggle that Elliot faces with his mental illnesses, and approached his suicidal urges in one of the most sensitive and thoughtful ways I’ve ever seen on television.
USA Networks / Via rebloggy.com
Sam’s life on the autism spectrum, as seen in Atypical.
Atypical was the best of them for me. A really good and well-studied portrait of a high school kid (Sam) on the autism spectrum struggling to pick up social cues and figure out girls — presented with humor but never shying away from the difficulties you face going through life with the condition.
Netflix / Via wherever-i-look.com
Sister Mary Cynthia’s sexual assault, and the aftermath of it, in Call the Midwife.
After her sexual assault, she refused to talk to the police. She felt guilty and outright denied what happened (although she did open up later on). She started experiencing what many viewers classified as depression when she started feeling disconnected from everyone and everything. She was sent to a mental hospital, which in the 1950s wasn't the best place, and was rescued from there to go to another facility. Seeing a character go through those steps, where the sexual assault wasn't just magically fixed in one episode was just really great.
BBC / Via interactive.wttw.com
The effects of PTSD on veterans, as seen in Lewis Wilson from The Punisher.
It was a gut-wrenching, sympathetic, and disturbing take on what PTSD does to veterans of war — both from the battlefield and in the way American society treats them — and the downward spiral that can happen if they don't get help.
The ups and downs of Gretchen’s depression in You’re the Worst.
Her portrayal of clinical depression is so on point, from trying to hide it from your loved ones and crying in your car alone to lashing out on her friends and family when she reaches her breaking point and trying to explain to people what it’s like to feel nothing. It’s amazing to see a series show what depression really is: lots of ups and downs that aren’t easily controlled, but still not something that can just be “fixed.”
FXX / Via giphy.com
The anxiety and constant thoughts that come with having OCD in Lady Dynamite.
Definitely anything Lady Dynamite. As someone with OCD, Maria perfectly exemplifies what it’s like to have anxiety and intrusive thoughts.
Netflix / Via buzzfeed.com
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.