The trials and tribulations of TV therapy – talking it through works

Posted on 28 May 2020
By Dana Andersen
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From Gillian Anderson in Hannibal, to Julia Roberts in Homecoming, we’ve been seeing a move to dramatise characterisations of therapists and councillors on TV more and more.

Wanderlust, Big Little Lies, and Maniac all also feature varying degrees of realistic therapy. TV often reflects our society back at us, showing us the best and worst parts to the extreme, and it has to be seen as one of the better parts, that reaching out for help, and talking to people about mental health, is being seen as something much more ordinary, than it was even just a few years ago.

One of the first shows to feature therapy, which worked well in TV, thanks to usually being weekly, allowing it to tie in episodically alongside the timeline of the show, was The Soprano’s. Tony Soprano didn’t believe therapy would help, but found himself too sad and angry to not give it a shot.

With the time The Sopranos existed within, and the types of characters it portrayed, Dr Jennifer Melfi, who often betrayed her patients confidence, and flirted with them, was not the most realistic, nor positive, representation of a therapist.

More recently, in Channel 4’s Game Face, created by and starring Roisin Conaty, main character Marcella is seen having some of her most important realisations, and admittedly some of her most heartbreaking meltdowns, in her therapy sessions.

Fleabag perhaps brings it home for a lot of people, in terms of its portrayal of therapy, since its something the main character can only obtain thanks to it being her birthday gift, from her father.

Although seen as humorous, especially when she tells the therapist, who asks if its a joke, its perhaps one of the most thoughtful and well intentioned gifts someone can receive nowadays.

We’re used to characters on TV having the things we want, and doing the things we wish we could do, and for all too many people, this applies to therapy too.

Fictional characters don’t have to worry about affording their sessions, and if they do they’ll undoubtably pull the money together in some mad scheme, that would never work in reality. There are ways to figure it out for real life situations though.

If you are feeling like you would like to talk to someone about your mental health, you can seek counselling online from BetterHelp. They are well equipped to answer any questions or concerns you may have. If you’re wondering whether or not your health insurance will cover the costs of treatment, check out this article from BetterHelp.