Of Therapy and TV Shows
In the past year, like many others, I turned to television shows and shows to drown out the white noise in the silence of the night. I watched some sitcoms — the fabled “The Office”, controversial “How I Met Your Mother” (I’ll refer to this as HIMYM from now on), and comical “Silicon Valley”. I watched some dramas sprinkled with humor — the personal favorite “Suits” and the monotonous, yet surprisingly interesting “Lucifer” and some others not worth mentioning.
No character is without their flaws — the scars and wounds that are exploited by writers to progress the story and character progression. Sitcoms use them to bring comedy to a situation or to introduce another layer of humor to a situation. In my opinion, HIMYM is a good example of this, because I was discovering character flaws into the final 9th season, even in the controversial finale (which still is unsatisfactory). Silicon Valley was of a much shorter format, and so its story and comedy were often much more condensed, the plot driving the humor and story.
However, the topic of this article is the theme of therapy in media. Although I have a limited catalog of shows that show therapy scenes, I believe that if they had enough of an effect on me to write this, it could consciously or subconsciously affect others as well. Lucifer shows therapy to be a very informal situation, acting more as an outlet for the protagonist’s thoughts, and not much more — the ‘healing’ was driven more by events and the plot of the story which at some points seemed outright absurd. However, the very existence of therapy, albeit not seemingly authentic, subtly plants the concept of therapy in our minds as we delve into the show and see how it is used to expose character flaws. It is an important part of the show but is not as relevant to the entire Bible and mythology-inspired show.
Now, Suits is a similar show to Lucifer, except even though the show is focused on a group of lawyers and their endeavors, it is centrally themed on their relationships. Off the top of my head, Harvey Specter, Donna Paulson, Mike Ross, Louis Litt, and so many others are dear to me because of what their relationships stood for and how it flowed so freely. Therapy, both formal and informal is an extremely key part of the show and almost no episode goes by where someone doesn’t ask another for advice or Louis or Harvey has an interaction with their therapists (mostly post season 2–3). Dr.Lipschitz is Louis Litt’s therapist, who despite being a big shot lawyer (albeit fictional), still deals with issues that we might relate to or empathize with. His character sees a satisfying arc of growth and reflects the lapses in judgment that push away those we are most close to and is completed with a Louis that is so different from the one we met 9 seasons ago. Harvey deals with childhood trauma, his family’s issues, and his personal life, but this change isn’t anything sudden or magical. It reflects and brings to surface flaws we as viewers may have noticed and thrust them into the spotlight, letting the character deal with it and eventually grow.
As I said, I’m definitely not the most avid watcher of these shows, but these storylines make me think about the concept of therapy. Even in the fictional world, those at the highest levels of success, have their issues which they might not be aware of, know how to resolve, or have anyone to talk to. I like to believe that the shows that we watch have a bigger impact on our lives than we make them out to be and so in a society that is gradually more and more invested in being aware of mental health and being self-aware, the effects of this will ripple through society, maybe years from now, or barely — But, I truly believe it will make a difference and remove the hesitance of having to ask for help.