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TimesTVShowsAccuratelyDepictedMentalIllness

NoraRoseMcMahon
NoraRoseMcMahon University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana Vice President
over 1 year Champaign, IL, United States Story
 Times TV Shows Accurately Depicted Mental Illness

1. You Stupid Bitch from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vrPrr4wmnJ4

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is a comedy/drama/musical about a young woman named Rebecca who impulsively moves across the country to follow an ex. She dedicates much of her life to schemes in an attempt to win him back. In this musical number, one of her schemes has dramatically backfired. When I first heard it, even though it’s a comedic show, I couldn’t stop crying. It’s such a poignant example of the horrible feeling that is self hate. “You ruined everything,” she cries out, “you stupid bitch.” She asks the audience to sing along, screaming that she deserves this. If you’ve every felt incredibly low about yourself, or like you can’t seem to do anything right, this song is an accurate representation of how that feels.

2. A Diagnoses from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nK2DlLmVc20

This one is a bit more cheerful. In this song, Rebecca finds out she has a new diagnoses to explain her behavior. It shows the hopeful feeling of understanding and belonging that comes with a diagnoses. True, it can be terrifying to learn what your diagnoses is, it can also be a relief. Rebecca perfectly encapsulates this feeling when she hopefully sings the lyrics “tell my this whole time I’ve belonged with those other people who share my diagnoses.” For the first time, she’s going to know who she is, try the right medication, and get on the right track. For people who’ve struggled with misdiagnoses, the wrong pills, doctors who don’t seem to understand, this song shows what it’s like to finally know what’s wrong. At one point Rebecca says she’s “armed with” her diagnoses.

3. Stupid Piece of Shit from Bojack Horseman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGalix-sVXs&t=16s

Pretty much everyone in Bojack Horseman suffers from mental illness. From depression, avoidance, substance abuse, and commitment issues in Diane, perfectionism that’s debilitating in Princess Caroline, addiction in Sarah Lynn, to the slew of things wrong with Bojack. Bojack is  a self hating, alcoholic, depressed, anxious… horse. This scene was one of the most shocking and painful moments of the series for me, because it exactly shows what the inner dialogue of someone with anxiety and depression looks like. We do things that we know are bad, but we can’t stop ourselves. We assume everyone hates us as much as we hate ourselves. It’s a painful, but moving moment of television.

4. Ian from Shameless

https://youtu.be/9SvCWvC0gnE

Ian Gallagher from Shameless is perhaps the show’s most tragic character. Whereas many of the characters in the show seem to sabotage themselve’s and act in completely narcissistic, self serving ways, Ian is the one who has empathy, which is why it’s so especially sad when the signs of Bipolar disorder manifest in Ian. The show does an incredible job at slowly hinting at the signs of it. The genetic aspect, with his mom being bipolar is the first hint. Rather than suddenly showing Ian as a stereotypical crazy person, the show does a slow buildup. Ian is extra talkative, up late cooking breakfast, wanting to join the military. The next week, he won’t get out of bed. Slowly, his family recognizes that he’s bipolar. This all culminates in one of the saddest, scariest episodes of the series in which Ian steals his boyfriend’s baby, and has a psychotic episode. Though he seeks help at a hospital, and is eventually medicated, the show doesn’t pretend that his illness is gone. While he’s able to live a healthy life for a while, he does relapse, accurately showing how people continually struggle with mental health. Shameless avoids the Hollywood standard of people suddenly getting better.

Feel free to share in the comments any other examples you like.


5 replies

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  • Danica
    over 1 year ago

    Do you think mental illness is viewed differently in different parts of the world @Sohwi Lim?

    Do you think mental illness is viewed differently in different parts of the world @Sohwi Lim?

  • Danica
    over 1 year ago

    @Sohwi Lim wrote a great article about the mental illness crisis in South Korea: https://onmogul.com/stories/mental-health-awareness-in-south-korea

    @Sohwi Lim wrote a great article about the mental illness crisis in South Korea: https://onmogul.com/stories/mental-health-awareness-in-south-korea

  • Danica
    over 1 year ago

    @timscott do you agree with this list?

    @timscott do you agree with this list?

  • Danica
    over 1 year ago

    @samjc37  did a great TedTalk on Mental Illness you should check out

    @samjc37  did a great TedTalk on Mental Illness you should check out

  • Ameris Jimenez
    Ameris Jimenez Mogul President at The University of Illinois
    over 1 year ago Champaign, IL, United States

    Number 2 I can definitely relate a lot to because I have dealt with doctors who were too quick to diagnose me and the drug me up when I didn't need to be. it was such a stressful experience trying to find the right medications only to figure out that my symptoms were due to an autoimmune disorder. Shameless does a very good job of depicting Bipolar Disorder especially through genetic ties. 

    Number 2 I can definitely relate a lot to because I have dealt with doctors who were too quick to diagnose me and the drug me up when I didn't need to be. it was such a stressful experience trying to find the right medications only to figure out that my symptoms were due to an autoimmune disorder. Shameless does a very good job of depicting Bipolar Disorder especially through genetic ties. 


NoraRoseMcMahon
University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana Vice President

Vice President of University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Mogul hub. I'm a senior at the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana. I'm getting a double major in Political Science and Psychology, and my career goal is to become a corporate lawyer.

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