Conscious bingewatching: The best TV shows that handle real issues
By now, you’ve likely slogged your way through all 13 harrowing episodes of the second season of 13 Reasons Why. It was a tough one and the finale required us to pour the tallest glass of hooch we could muster, but the Netflix Originals show should also be applauded for once again approaching a number of challenging issues in a gutsy, honest manner.
If you’re looking to follow up the show with one that can offer an equally thoughtful exploration of similar issues, here are nine that we highly recommend you bingewatch immediately.
Mickey Dobbs (Gillian Jacobs) might be one of the low-key greatest depictions of addiction ever shown on TV. Like 13 Reasons Why, the show delves into the everyday reality of sobriety – and the challenges in maintaining it – without leaning on stereotypes to do so.
Set in a small town backdrop comparable to the characters attending Liberty High, One Tree Hill offers viewers a similar world of authentic, emotional storylines and the consequences of bullying. Plus all nine seasons are currently available to stream on Hulu. Get involved!
The Netflix Originals show tackles depression through the character of BoJack (Will Arnett) as he struggles to face life and silence his scathing inner monologue. The animated show is breathtakingly relatable for anyone who has suffered similar turmoil and presents the topic with compassion and great humor.
Ridiculously attractive high school students – check. Ridiculously attractive high school students facing mysteries, complex relationships, and everyday struggles (along with serial killers and biker gangs) – double check.
5. Mr. Robot
The unspecified mental illness of Elliot (Rami Malek) is the lens through which we experience Sam Esmail’s unique hacker drama. Though the show never goes too deep into what his disorder may actually be, it also never shies away from offering a painfully honest depiction of how he deals with suicidal thoughts, crippling anxiety, and psychological delusions.
Rather than looking into the reasons for suicide, Mindhunter explores the psychology of homicide. Incredibly paced and tastefully acted, the Netflix Originals show has released one season and been renewed for a second.
While 13 Reasons Why offers a brutally raw depiction of life with PTSD, Tina Fey’s sitcom takes a screwball comedy route in exploring it through the sunshine resilience of Kimmy (Ellie Kemper). The result is pure optimism and lightness in the face of mental hardship, something that the show probes at without altogether hiding the true struggle of trauma.
2. This Is Us
Eating disorders, fathers struggling with PTSD, and alcoholic TV star dropouts, This Is Us explores a modern American family while also making room for some old-fashioned romance.
The Krysten Ritter (Breaking Bad) led Marvel show offers one of the freshest takes on dealing with the subsequent PTSD following sexual assault and an abusive relationship. Jessica Jones suggests even women with super strength can struggle with their mental health and all survivors have the power to push through their trauma.