5 TV shows featuring characters with mental disorders

Mar 21, 2016, 16:14 IST | A Correspondent

Characters portraying mental illnesses on TV have been enjoying a quiet transformation; in recent years, the change has grown louder

Characters portraying mental illnesses on TV have been enjoying a quiet transformation; in recent years, the change has grown louder. While portrayals of mental illness in the media have become more accurate in recent years with shows like "Homeland" and "Elementary," some films and TV shows continue to form and spread damaging views of mental disorders and treatment methods.

Writers of certain episodes of TV shows including "Castle," "Homeland" and "Elementary" have received awards from the Voice Awards program, which recognises people and media productions that have helped raise awareness about mental health. For example, in the award-winning "Homeland" episode, an explosion causes Carrie, who suffers from bipolar disorder, to have a major manic episode.

Mental health awareness is important because many people and programs can help those with disorders. Rather than hiding and being ashamed, these television shows empower people to recognise that depression, anxiety and mental illness — like any other disease — require treatment, support and a plan of action.

Here is a list of television shows that have embraced human disorders in their storyline.

1. 'Homeland'


Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), a bipolar CIA operative, is on probation after carrying out an unauthorised operation in Iraq. As a result, she has been reassigned to the Counter terrorism center. Whilst in Iraq, she was warned that an American prisoner had been turned by Al-Qaeda. When Nicholas Brody, a U.S. Marine Sergeant, is rescued after being held hostage since 2003, she suspects that he is the one. While Brody is received home as a war hero, Carrie goes to any lengths necessary to catch him out and as the show progresses, she breaks all the rules to prove that the man has switched sides.

On top of all that intrigue, she’s bipolar, going off her meds, and bordering on the brink of insanity and irrational obsession throughout the show. Sometimes she’s the principled and driven agent — but other times, she manages an impressive set of crazy eyes.

2. 'Suits'

Mike Ross (Patrick J. Adams) is a genius college dropout, who, with his natural intelligence and eidetic memory, makes a living taking the LSAT for others. While running from a drug deal gone bad, he slips into a job interview with one of New York City's best legal closers, Harvey Specter. Mike and Harvey are a winning team. Even though Mike is a genius, he still has a lot to learn about law. And while Harvey may seem like an emotionless, cold-blooded shark, Mike's sympathy and concern for their cases and clients reminds Harvey of why he went into law in the first place.

3. 'Unforgettable'
Former Syracuse, New York, police detective Carrie Wells (Poppy Montgomery) has hyperthymesia, a rare medical condition that gives her the ability to visually remember everything. She reluctantly joins the New York City Police Department's Queens Homicide unit after her former boyfriend and partner, Lieutenant Al Burns, asks for help with solving a case. The move allows her to try to find out the one thing she has been unable to remember, which is what happened the day her sister was murdered.

4. 'Empire'
Andre Martin Lyon is a character who suffers from Bipolar disorder in the television series Empire. He is the eldest son of Lucious and Cookie Lyon, and the CFO of Empire Entertainment. A graduate of Wharton Business School, Andre oversees the financial aspects of Empire, working alongside his father to ensure the company’s fiscal strength. He is portrayed by actor Trai Byers, and he first appeared in Pilot. Empire narrates the story of a music industry honcho who looks at securing the future of his business as his ex-wife and sons fight against each other to take over his business.

5. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Rachel Bloom, who co-created and stars in the CW’s critically beloved and cheekily titled Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, informally talked to a couple of professionals — one of whom was her own psychiatrist — about the anxiety and depression that led her character, Rebecca Bunch, to uproot her life over an old love interest. Rebecca Bunch, a successful young woman who impulsively gives up her life in New York and moves to California in order to find love, happiness and to reconnect with her ex flame.

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