What the Media Gets Wrong About Mental Illness

There have always been debates on how TV shows and movies should portray mental illness. Sure, there have been some pretty successful and accurate depictions in recent years, such as Bojack Horseman and Jessica Jones, but the majority of them seem to still fall into the stereotypes and it may send out some harmful messages. 

One of the most used examples is Netflix’s hit show, 13 Reasons Why. The show prides itself in depicting teen issues, including depression, suicide, bullying, and rape, however, the writers did a horrible job of presenting these issues. 

Hannah Baker’s suicide scene in season one became extremely controversial, and Netflix has since put on warning titles in each episode and removed the scene, but it didn’t stop them from making three more seasons. 

The biggest problem of the show is how it glorifies Hannah’s suicide. Although the revenge narrative is intriguing for teen drama, it also sends out harmful messages to the younger audience. Many psychiatrists have pointed out that the show lacks the understanding of these issues to discuss them on such a huge platform.

Now, this doesn’t mean shows or movies can not write about mental illness. In fact, we’ve seen some pretty successful cases, such as Joker (Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for the role), or BBC’s Sherlock Holmes starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

It means that these writers should be more careful about what they write about, and whether or not they are sending out inappropriate messages that target people who have mental illness and how it can create harmful and unrealistic stereotypes against them. 

Shows like Bojack Horseman and You’re the Worst has been praised for their realistic take on the topic of mental illness instead of making it a gimmick. They find humor in these issues without making the mental illness itself the butt of the joke. 


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