do you ever see spoilers for a show you don’t watch anymore and just
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"you’re too young to determine your sexuality" said no one to the heterosexual teenager
I just finished watching the last episode of Please Like Me (an Australian drama/comedy). I love this show. In this second season they focused a lot more heavily on talking about mental illness and depression. In the first season, Josh finds out that his mom attempted suicide; he moves in with her, takes care of her for a bit then moves back in with his friend Tom (who I don’t really care for). In the second season, Josh’s mom Rose is admitted to a hospital for in patient treatment for bipolar disorder and depression. There Josh meets a host of characters that I really, really liked a lot better than most of the people outside of the hospital.
The reason for that is that it humanizes people with mental illnesses. Of course they exclude people with schizophrenia, DID, etc. They focused more on people with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder/basically things that appear to be more treatable and “normal”.
I don’t really talk much about my experience with mental illness very much on this blog except for the vague feelings posts that I make every once in a while. But, it’s so rare for me to see a show that talks about mental illness without completely demonizing it. At first, you have Josh, who’s very cold/confused/struggling with trying to understand mental illness in someone so close to him interacting with his mom in a way that’s very unfeeling. But as the story line develops he really goes on to develop this relationship with his mom that didn’t seem to be there before and the way that his characters develop in his interactions with the friends he makes and the boyfriend(but not really) that he ends up with in the end really makes me feel like he was very intentional about the way he wanted to frame the discussion around mental illness.
For example (and this is a pretty big spoiler so whatever) Rose’s roommate kills herself. Normally, what you would see in most t.v. shows is this visceral and fucked up view of mental illness that ultimately blames the person suffering with the illness as less than human. What I (and my old roommate who I used to watch this with) was hoping for (and what they did) was amazing. Rose and Josh go off on this hike together to process what it means to live with a mental illness, they reopened a conversation between Josh and Rose and Rose’s attempted suicide and had a great convo together, and they used that time to help heal the emotional wounds of someone who you become close with killing themself.
In this last episode, Josh’s new beau Arnold (who he met at a birthday party and subsequently at the hospital where his mom is at as a patient and who I adore) goes out with him to a club and they party. They run in to an old lover of Josh. He tries to kiss Josh yada yada yada, Arnold sees and has a massive panic attack and needs to be checked back into the hospital after wanting nothing to do with Josh. Josh’s behavior during the panic attack was stunning to me, though, because I recognize myself being in similar situations when my panic attacks used to be horrible and wanting someone to leave me alone but also wanting them to be there and if i tell them to leave and they do then I must be worthless cyclical thinking; but what Josh did was give Arnold space but stayed near him and said “when you’re ready I’ll be here waiting.” This didn’t blow my mind because these are things I’ve come to expect/demand of people if I let them that close, but to see it portrayed as a feasible way of interacting with someone and not having it reframed on someone without a mental illness who usually gets huffy and offended made me really really happy.
***my only problem with the show and it’s usually my problem with most shows is the lack of diversity (basically one woman of color who’s amazing and I really like her). But pretty decent writing, pretty well rounded characters, nice character development, and if you like awkward kinda weird main characters you’ll like this show.