If we’re being honest, mental illness is not given the air space it deserves in the TV industry. And not only do we not see it enough, if it has been included in a show, it’s often portrayed in a romanticized manner. However, we cannot discredit the fact that there have been some shows that highlight have highlighted a wide range of mental health conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse.
These actors portray life with mental illness both realistically and vividly as possible. So whether you’re looking to feel less alone in your mental illness or want to understand mental health a little better from a third-person view, you’re sure to find a show that speaks to you down below!
1. Horse Girl
It follows Sarah portrayed by Alison Brie, an awkward, introverted young woman who works at a crafts store. As the movie continues, it becomes clear that Sarah might be suffering from mental health issues. She wakes up in the middle of the night in random places, has dreams where she sees people she hasn’t met yet, and, after a while, she starts to believe that she’s regularly abducted by aliens.
2. Jessica Jones
The series follows Marvel‘s Jessica Jones after a tragedy suddenly upends her life and ends her career as a superhero. Jessica ultimately battles Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) throughout the show. Experiencing traumatic nightmares and flashbacks.
3. Never Have I Ever
A heartwarming and relatable story of how conservative families come to terms with taboo subjects like grief. The series follows the complicated life of a first-generation Indian-American teenager, who has to come to terms with the passing of her father who seems to be the only person who understands her, and having to express grief with her mom, who has remained emotionally closed off.
This heartfelt comedy follows Sam, a teenager on the autism spectrum, who has decided he is ready for romance. In order to start dating, and hopefully find love, Sam will need to be more independent, which also sends his mother on her own life-changing path. She and the rest of Sam’s family, including a scrappy sister and a father seeking a better understanding of his son, must adjust to change and explore what it means to be “normal.”
5. The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit is one of Netflix’s most popular original shows and if you read through the lines it also happens to be a realistic depiction of childhood trauma and addiction. Beth Harmon, a young genius orphan ultimately becomes a world-renowned chess player in the 1960s. Beth’s addiction as a child and her eventual dependence on alcohol resurface throughout the series, even after becoming a sensation in the chess world, which just goes to show the fact that addiction and success can often be a recipe for disaster. Do any Hollywood celebrities come to mind???
6. Russian Doll
The show takes viewers on an insane journey of coming to terms with emotional abuse. A young woman who is on a journey to be the guest of honor at a party in New York City. But she gets caught in a mysterious loop as she repeatedly attends the same event and dies at the end of the night each time — only to awaken the next day unharmed as if nothing had happened.
7. Spinning Out
A figure skating Olympic hopeful struggles to balance family, love, and fragile mental health as her dream of winning takes a dizzying hold.
8. BoJack Horseman
A humanoid horse, BoJack Horseman — lost in a sea of self-loathing and booze — decides it’s time for a comeback. Once the star of a ’90s sitcom, in which he was the adoptive father of three orphaned kids (two girls and a boy). The show was the hottest thing around, then suddenly, was cancelled. Now 18 years later, BoJack wants to regain his dignity. With the aid of a human sidekick and a feline ex-girlfriend who is his agent, he sets out to make it happen. But Hollywood is vastly different from those days, and getting used to stuff like Twitter may take some time.
9. After Life
Tony had a perfect life — until his wife, Lisa died. After that tragic event, the formerly nice guy changed. After contemplating taking his life, Tony decides he would rather live long enough to punish the world by saying and doing whatever he likes. He thinks of it as a superpower — not caring about himself or anybody else — but it ends up being trickier than he envisioned when his friends and family try to save the nice guy that they used to know. Golden Globe winner Ricky Gervais stars in the comedy series, which he also writes and directs.
10. Mad World
A bipolar man, formerly a financial analyst, is placed in the custody of his truck-driver father after being released from a psychiatric hospital.
*Cover image credits: Instagram @atypicalnetflix / @spinningoutnetflix