12 TV Shows That Thoughtfully Portray Mental Illness

TV shows and other media are starting to more accurately portray people from all walks of life. That includes representing people with mental health issues through their characters.

These are 12 shows worth watching for their ability to portray their mentally ill characters not as “crazy,” but as complicated, layered and sensitive people – just like everyone else.

We won’t spoil the shows, but we’ll entice viewers ready to see a bit of themselves in a character on screen. Check these out!

4 Shows That Deal With Anxiety and Depression

  • BoJack Horseman – Two characters in this show are open about their depression from the get-go: BoJack Horseman and Diane Nguyen. They both struggle with depression in their own personal ways. BoJack’s struggles are amplified by his drug addiction and alcoholism.
  • This Is Us – Randall, who is Jack and Rebecca’s adopted son, suffers from bad anxiety. Meanwhile, Kate’s husband and Jack’s dad, Toby, suffers from depression.
  • You’re the Worst – This love story has an interesting twist – Gretchen Cutler’s clinical depression makes her love life with Jimmy harder than he thought.
  • black-ish – Dr. Rainbow Johnson deals with postpartum depression after having her fifth baby.

2 Shows That Deal With PTSD

  • Jessica Jones – Jessica Jones has PTSD – something that probably affects a lot of superheroes. But this series highlights the disorder with tact.
  • One Day at a Time – Penelope Alvarez is in an open battle with PTSD, anxiety and depression as she raises her kids.

3 Shows That Deal With Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend – A character in this show has BPD, but it’s not revealed how you might think.
  • Maniac – Annie Landsberg, played by Emma Stone, has BPD.
  • Game of Thrones – The Wikipedia page for BPD asserts that Cersei and Jaime Lannister display symptoms consistent with borderline and narcissistic personality disorders – it’s not always perfectly accurate, but it’s there.

3 Shows That Deal With Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression)

  • Ozark – Ben, Wendy Birde’s younger brother has bipolar disorder. He goes on and off of his medication, which gets him into trouble in Season 3.
  • Homeland – Carrie Mathison of “Homeland,” a CIA officer, received her bipolar diagnosis in college.
  • Shameless – Ian Gallagher and his estranged mother, Monica, both suffer from bipolar disorder. Ian struggles to stay on his medication after his diagnosis.

Catie Housman

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