When it comes to portraying the real-life experiences of those living with mental illness, TV shows and movies have a mixed track record. It makes natural that popular culture reflects reality more accurately as our society learns more about mental illness and makes measures to reduce stigma.
Some of them, like What About Bob?, are hilarious, fictitious depictions of what it’s like to have a mental condition. Some, like A Beautiful Mind, are biographical and examine the difficulties and stigma experienced by earlier generations. At best, having truthful representations of mental health in motion pictures and television programmes can help people realise they are not alone.
Table Of Content
‘A Beautiful Mind’
A Beautiful Mind is a biography that examines John Nash’s life (Russell Crowe). Mathematician Nash battled schizophrenia throughout his life. The film celebrates Nash’s numerous achievements to mathematics while also highlighting the very real hardships he encountered throughout his most difficult periods of mental illness.
For many years, John Nash received treatment for his schizophrenia in psychiatric facilities. His rehabilitation and success afterward served as the inspiration for Sylvia Nasar’s biography, which was used as the basis for the film. Some of his best work for what he would become renowned for appeared in the 1980s when he returned to academic work after years of treatment.
Blackish Black-ish has never shied away from tackling difficult subjects as a comedy. During the course of the series, the characters on the show dealt with a variety of real-world challenges, including racism, misogyny, and the COVID-19 epidemic. The critics praised Tracee Ellis Ross for her portrayal of Dr. Rainbow Johnson.
One of the most powerful characters on the programme has always been Rainbow. After the birth of her youngest son, DeVante, she experienced postpartum depression, which she addressed with dignity and candour. This is an experience that is discussed far too infrequently. Any awareness of this incredibly widespread condition may hopefully help others feel less alone.
In the alternate reality shown in Bojack Horseman, humans and anthropomorphized animals coexist. The main character, who bears the same name, is a former celebrity who must deal with his decline in notoriety. Along with his personal problems, he also has to deal with the antics of the other people in the room.
Although Bojack Horseman’s premise is fantasy, it deals with some very real issues. Bojack struggles daily with alcoholism. The television show also includes plots about post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. Despite being a comedy, the show takes these topics quite seriously.
The film Girl, Interrupted is based on Susanna Kaysen’s book of the same name. This account of Kaysen’s hospitalisation and subsequent diagnosis with borderline personality disorder is autobiographical. Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie (who won an Oscar), Elisabeth Moss, and Whoopi Goldberg are just a few of the A-list actors who appear in the film.
One mental condition that is still poorly understood and commonly stigmatised is borderline personality disorder. It is a tribute to Kaysen and her bravery to tell her personal story that this was discussed so candidly and honestly in 2000. In addition, this film realistically depicts the dismal reality of mental illness hospitalisation.
Marc Spector, a lesser-known Marvel hero, is featured in the Marvel film Moon Knight. Spector has dissociative identity disorder and resides there (DID). Marc as a result has at least three separate alter egos, each with unique skills and abilities. He is Khonshu’s incarnation, the Egyptian deity. Each of Spector’s aliases is portrayed by Oscar Isaac.
The television programme didn’t go too far into the facts of DID, but it did highlight how severe childhood trauma may affect a person’s mental health into maturity. Spector was abused as a child in this instance. It’s heartwarming and accurate that Spector’s mental illness is depicted as shielding him from this abuse just when he needs it.
‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’
The movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is based on Ken Kesey’s book of the same name. Jack Nicholson’s Randle McMurphy is a patient in a mental health facility run by the ruthless Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The discussion that follows is a reflection on human perseverance and tyranny.
This film’s portrayal of how cruelly patients have historically been treated by the mental healthcare system may be the most truthful aspect. Embarrassing demonstrations of barbaric practises are made. It’s a depressing reflection on how far the medical system has advanced and how much work remains.
Jackson Marchetti, the head boy, and his experiences at Moordale Secondary School are included in the movie Sex Education with Kedar Williams-Stirling. He wants Maeve (Emma Mackey), a champion swimmer, to go on a date with him. Despite all of his accomplishments, he still experiences anxiety and panic episodes.
Jackson’s struggle with anxiety and panic attacks is real, especially given that he was a teenager at the time. His mental illness fluctuates depending on whether he has access to the proper resources and is taking the necessary medication, which is extremely realistic. If these supports are in place, he can carry on with his current conditions.
‘Silver Linings Playbook’
A man and a woman standing close to each other Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence appear in the love story comedy Silver Linings Playbook. Cooper portrays Pat, a man who has recently been released from a mental facility. Bipolar condition affects him. His persona tries to make amends with his wife while growing close to Tiffany played by Lawrence.
Another frequently misrepresented and wrongly understood mental health disease is bipolar disorder. Cooper portrays his character with empathy and sincerity. He avoids falling into bipolar disorder stereotypes by playing this character in a very modest manner.
There are many admirable qualities about Ted Lasso, the American coach who leads AFC Richmond with his special brand of optimism. This endearing cast is led by Jason Sudeikis. Each character is depicted as being extremely complicated, with unique history that shape each one of their personalities. Ted Lasso’s experiences with panic episodes are among his most sincere traits.
Ted Lasso does a fantastic job of demonstrating how even those who appear to be doing “great” might have mental illness hidden beneath the surface. The fact that Ted’s friends, notably Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham), fully back him when he admits that he has panic attacks is what really makes this plot heartbreaking. It’s inspiring and heartwarming to see Ted becoming more open about his realities.
‘What About Bob?’
What About Bob? by Frank Oz tells the tale of Bob (Bill Murray), a man who struggles with a long list of phobias. Bob’s therapist Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) is convinced that his best-selling book Baby Steps is the solution to all of Bob’s issues. When Bob is unable to leave Dr. Marvin alone, he causes havoc by even trying to follow the doctor on his family vacation.
This story contains a number of elements that are remarkably true to the experience of mental illness. Anyone who has experienced anxiety that is so intense that it interferes with daily living will be able to relate to Bob’s experience. Visiting a mental health professional who holds themselves out as the only one with the solutions may be even more accurate.
Being a binge-watcher himself, finding Content to write about comes naturally to Divesh. From Anime to Trending Netflix Series and Celebrity News, he covers every detail and always find the right sources for his research.