Ahead of my #TalkMH chat this Thursday, I wanted explore two of my favourite TV shows and look at how they portray mental illness.

Gilmore girls

As much as I hate to say it, because GG is my absolute favourite TV show, I strongly dislike how it portrays therapy.

In season 6, episode 11 (‘The Perfect Dress’), Rory is asked to attend therapy following her recent time away from college. From Lorelai’s initial reaction (‘I can’t believe you’re going to a therapist’ followed by a joke about the old cliché of therapists asking about your mother) to the actual session itself, nothing in this episode is handled sensitively at all.

The scene itself is an absolute farce, starting with Rory’s obvious disdain towards her therapist and ending with over-the-top crying. It makes me cringe every time.

Rory Gilmore crying

Afterwards, she calls Lorelai and opens with, ‘Guess who’s crazy?’

Huh.

I’ll forgive it though, because this episode first aired back in 2005 and let’s be honest, Gilmore girls was never particularly PC.

Fast-forward to 2016 though, and we have the revival episodes. *Warning: Spoilers ahead!*

Sigh. Where to start?

I had high hopes when Lorelai sensitively suggested Emily see a professional to help her through her grief. But then we get to the therapist who seems alright at first, but quickly becomes more and more ridiculous.

Firstly, can we talk about the obvious frustration and lack of empathy she shows when she’s rushing them out of their sessions?

And then, when she turns up in Stars Hollow (I’m sorry, why?!), bounds up to Lorelai (so unprofessional!!) and announces she’s auditioning for the musical, I couldn’t stop myself from sighing. So we’re supposed to believe that Emily and Lorelai were such difficult clients they drove her to give up her career as a therapist in favour of performing in small town musical? Sure. That makes sense.

Girl rolling her eyes

I feel like the therapy was used more as a comedic device than to drive the plot. Case in point: the infamous letter that Emily mentions to Lorelai that never comes up again. I’m not saying therapy can’t or shouldn’t be portrayed in a funny way, I just think the humour here missed the mark. And I was disappointed that we didn’t see the whole thing handled more sensitively.

That said, I liked that Lorelai continued to go by herself, and ultimately her sessions did lead her to somewhat of an epiphany about her own life.

Overall though, not impressed.

The Big Bang Theory

Now, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this.

I know a lot of people don’t particularly like how Sheldon’s OCD is portrayed but personally I can relate a lot to him.

The rituals (knocking three times), the obsessive need for closure and to an extent his cleanliness, all struck a chord with me.

Sheldon knocking on the door

This is perfectly illustrated in season 7, episode 8 (‘The Itchy Brain Simulation’), when Sheldon likens his need for closure to an ‘itch on his brain’ that leaves him feeling uncomfortable and anxious. I can’t think of a better way to describe OCD. He urges Leonard to walk a mile in his shoes by wearing an itchy jumper. OCD is so difficult to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, so I think it’s particularly clever that Sheldon suggests mimicking it with a physical sensation.

Though Leonard gains a better understanding of his friend’s struggles, he still teases him and calls him crazy. Rather than taking offense though, I applaud the show’s accuracy. It’s been my experience that people often can’t relate, so Leonard’s lack of understanding rang true with me.

In another episode, Sheldon’s girlfriend Amy tries to help him overcome his OCD, by encouraging him to start various tasks without finishing them. Challenging his compulsive need to see everything through is very difficult for Sheldon and I really related to his struggle. The strain is visible on his face and the episode ends with him doing the tasks again, this time to completion.

While some could argue that The Big Bang Theory stigmatises OCD, I would personally disagree. I think it’s great that the show is helping to ‘normalise’ OCD and bring it into the mainstream. More than that, I like that it doesn’t just focus on cleanliness, as of course there’s so much more to it than that. Anything that helps more people realise this is a good thing in my book.

It’s not always a perfect representation, but I find it relatable and at times very sensitively handled.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you can’t make it to the chat (this Thursday 13th April at 8:30pm) please feel free to tweet me, or leave a comment below.

 

 

You may have gathered by now that I’m a huge TV lover, given that it’s what I mostly tweet about.  So I thought I’d do a round-up of everything that’s been floating my boat in the world of television.

Mr Robot

This absolutely had to be the first one on my list, as it’s quite simply phenomenal.  I won’t say too much, but basically the series follows Elliot, a cyber-security engineer by day, and vigilante hacker by night.  Sam Esmail has created a gripping drama filled with complex characters whose motives, for the most part, remain a mystery to the viewer.

Filled with clever nods to iconic movies and enough twists and turns to leave you breathless, this is truly unmissable television.  It’s also worth noting that this show has been widely praised for its accurate portrayal of hacking/programming, but at the same time it’s not so technical that it will alienate any not-so-technologically-inclined viewers.

I could literally talk about this show for hours.  Fantastic writing (in particular Elliot’s inner monologues), striking cinematography, and Mac Quayle’s dark and atmospheric score create a captivating, thrilling world that will suck you in and refuse to let go.

The whole experience is rounded off by an incredible cast who add depth and dimension to the host of intriguing characters Esmail has created.  Special mentions go to Rami Malek (Elliot), who brings so much to his character – vulnerability, intensity, and humour – and Swedish actor, Martin Wallström, who plays ‘villain’ Tyrell Wellick.  To call him a villain would be too black and white, and that’s what also makes this show so intriguing; even by the end of the series we still know so little about each character and their motivations that it’s hard to actually label anyone good or bad.

Wallström is a strange mix of charming and unsettling, threatening and child-like.  Watching his character unravel is fascinating, and it’s oddly difficult not to feel sympathy for him as, unhinged and desperate, he tries to claw his way back to the top.

Season one is on DVD now.  Season two starts 13th July.  If you watch just one show on my list, make it this one.

Elliot

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

It’s impossible not to love this feel-good offering from Tina Fey.  The show follows Kimmy, who is adjusting to life in New York City after being rescued from 15 years spent in an underground bunker as part of a doomsday cult.  Doesn’t exactly sound cheery, but cheery it is, and ridiculously so.  Ellie Kemper is wonderful as the relentlessly optimistic Kimmy, and Jane Krakowski is as fantastically self-absorbed and altogether ridiculous as she was in 30 Rock.

If you haven’t watched this show already, where have you been?  Watch both seasons now on Netflix.
 kimmy

The Bridge

I’m a little bit obsessed with Nordic Noir, and for me The Bridge is crime drama at its absolute finest.  Well-crafted and perfectly-paced, each ten episode season follows one case, and guarantees a dizzying, emotional climax.

Season one begins with a body found on the Öresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden, and the bridge remains a pivotal part of the show throughout, symbolising the relationship not only between the two countries, but our two lead detectives, Martin and Saga.

It really is their chemistry that makes the show great.  He is the classic maverick cop, likeable yet flawed, while she is blunt, uptight and a stickler for the rules.  While their clashing personalities and resulting disagreements could easily seem contrived, instead it feels natural as we watch them grow together, and better each other.

I’m very much hoping for a fourth season, but in the meantime there’s certainly no shortage of Scandinavian crime shows that I can’t wait to sink my teeth into.  Next up will probably be The Killing, or Blue Eyes, which I’ve recently had highly recommended.

A big fan of Kenneth Brannagh’s Wallander (rumoured to be returning for a new season soon, hurrah!), I’m keen to check out the original.

And one to look forward to…

…Gilmore girls!

I couldn’t exactly write this post without mentioning the upcoming Gilmore Girls reunion.  If you’re a die-hard Gilly (a term coined by the awesome Gilmore Guys – seriously, check out their podcast if you haven’t already) like me, you’ll already know what’s being planned.  Four 90 minute episodes set during and named after each season.

No news on a release date yet, though rumour has it we will get our first installment late 2016/early 2017.  I’m literally bursting with excitement, and not at all ashamed to admit I wept with joy when the official announcement was made.  Finally we will get the ending (and those infamous final four words) that Amy Sherman-Palladino had planned for us, and I have no doubt in my mind that it will be everything we hoped for and more.

gilmore girls

 

gilmore3

As much as I tip my (top) hat to Amy Sherman-Palladino, there are many things I wish we’d seen during the show.  Here’s just a short list:

  1. Rory and Lorelai going wedding dress shopping in ‘Hammers and Veils’.  This would have been a great scene, plus, y’know, we’d get to see Lorelai in pretty wedding dresses.  Enough said.
  2. More of the Jess/Rory relationship. So much build-up.  So much chemistry.  Then they finally get together and it’s all rather anti-climactic and over fairly quickly.
  3. Rory’s lovely ‘tangerine’ bridesmaid dress.
  4. More of a rock ‘n’ roll story-line for Lane. I know she ends up happily married with a lovely family, but I still can’t help but wish we’d seen Hep Alien become a big success.  Which leads me to…
  5. …the Hep Alien album. $9,000 on recording equipment and they never recorded an album?
  6. Kirk’s mother. Because there’s no doubt Mama Gleason would have been hilarious.
  7. Much, much more of the fabled Gilmore birthday hoopla we hear so much about. Sure, we get glimpses, but I wanted more dammit!  Perhaps Lorelai could have thrown an off the charts party for Luke (which he would have grumbled about, but secretly loved, obvs).
  8. Some sort of Jess/Liz resolution. Just one scene where Jess meets Doula, and there’s a suggestion of some kind of relationship between them as a family would have been great.
  9. While we’re at it, a bit more Rory/Jess closure (and by closure I obviously mean them getting back together). The kiss at Truncheon, and Jess’ whole ‘it is what it is…you, me…’ malarky?  What’s that?  Oh right, the sound of my heart breaking.  Not cool ASP, not cool.
  10. Dean sorting himself out, going back to college, and actually getting over Rory. Love him or hate him, he deserved more than to become a bitter loser, pining after his high-school sweetheart.
  11. Lorelai’s ‘American Traveller’ interview, in all its cringe-worthy glory.
  12. Mia visiting Lorelai at the Dragonfly. It feels like something she would have wanted to see, and would have made for a nice episode.  I probably would have preferred this to the episode with her wedding, but maybe that’s just me.
  13. Some more background on Sookie. She was by far one of the best characters of the show, and yet we know so little about her.
  14. Drunk Sookie. Because her drunken misery in ‘A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving’ was definitely a highlight of the whole episode.   Can you just imagine what her bachelorette party would have been like…
    MELISSA DANCE
  15. Lorelai finally snatching Dance Marathon victory away from Kirk. What song would she have done her victory lap to though?  Suggestions in the comments please!
  16. And perhaps the biggest one of all: Luke and Lorelai’s wedding. The perfect dress, the s’mores wedding cake, the vintage carousel, the cake topper with Luke’s EXACT butt.  Let’s face it, the Gilmore-Danes wedding would have been pretty spectacular.

Have I missed anything?  Was there anything on this list you don’t agree with?  If so, come chat to me in the comments, or over on Twitter!

lorelai
There are rumours flying around that a GG movie/new series is going to be announced at the upcoming ATX television festival. Crosses fingers and toes, and prays daily #bringbackGilmoreGirls

EDIT: Klaxons IT’S HAPPENING, PEOPLE. IT’S HAPPENING. WE WILL BE HEARING THOSE FAMOUS FINAL FOUR WORDS.

champagne