How Animation Is Starting A New Conversation On Mental Illness

How Animation Is Starting A New Conversation On Mental Illness

Depression. Despite being a ubiquitously glib term used for "sad people" all around the world, few have a firm idea of what it truly means to be depressed. In order to clarify an often misunderstood condition, creative innovators have turned to animation to show the true reality of living with depression.

When it comes to portraying depression, getting it right can be difficult. After all, "sadness" and "depression" are often treated as synonymous terms. Typically, when depression is shown in television, and film, it is treated as brief sadness, an extension of a catalytic moment in a character's life, which is then "fixed" at some point. Think the Grinch after his heart grew three sizes; or the depressed are shown as eternally dour individual like Eeyore. These two common portrayals of depression fail to take into account the true breadth of the condition, that without proper treatment is difficult to live with and recover from, and create a mentality amongst people that view such glib portrayals of depression that the condition is a "mental state" rather than an illness. Fortunately, there are writers -- like Dan Harmon, Justin Roiland, and Raphael Bob-Waksberg -- who have been able to recently portray and demonstrate grounded, realistic, takes on depression, albeit in surrealistic animated television.

The premise of Raphael Bob-Waksberg's Netflix series, BoJack Horseman, is ridiculous in nature. The series follows an anthropomorphic horse, BoJack Horseman, who happens to suffer from depression. The world that BoJack inhabits is equally implausible, populated by humans and humanized animals. At a cursory level, it seems unlikely that a show that features a talking dog named Mr. Peanutbutter, a fictionalized Los Angeles where the 'D' from the Hollywood sign has been stolen (resulting in everyone referring to the town as "Hollywoo") and a still-living J.D. Salinger creating a Hollywood game show entitled Hollywoo Stars: What Do They Know?: Do They Know Things?: Let’s Find Out! would provide an appropriate outlet for discussing the nuances of the nature of depression. However, it is revealed through the absurdity of the setting of BoJack Horseman, the relatability and humanity of the titular character.

Much like a phoenix who rises from the ashes, throughout the two seasons of the show, BoJack Horseman (voiced by Will Arnett), a drunken misanthropic former sitcom star, puts his life back together. By the second season of the show, BoJack has everything that he has ever wanted, a girlfriend, respect, and a starring role in his dream movie, and yet still is not happy -- as evidenced in this exchange between Mr. Peanutbutter and BoJack Horseman:

As Bob-Waksberg is showing, BoJack is incapable of magically feeling cured of depression, he is stuck in a cycle of misery that no amount of success will spontaneously whisk away. The only constant in the life of BoJack Horseman is depression, and without the necessary treatment, BoJack, regardless of success, failure, triumph, or misery, will remain in a state of depression.

In a very similar vein to BoJack Horseman is the eponymous character in Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland's Rick and Morty. Rick Sanchez is a brilliant super-scientist capable of accomplishing his every goal and desire. With little apparent effort, Rick can construct devices that allow him to transcend time and space, shift dimensions, and travel throughout the universe. However, the problem is that Rick has no real desire, other than drinking to try and avoid his demons. Rick is a textbook alcoholic, and clearly suffers from depression (in fact, Rick's signature whimsical catchphrase is literally a thinly veiled cry for help).

In the most recent episode of Rick and Morty (*Spoilers*), "Autoerotic Assimilation," Rick reunites with his former girlfriend, Unity - a sentient HIVE-mind capable of enslaving entire worlds. At first the idea of being able to re-engage with a former fling gives Rick hope, but as the episode progresses, it becomes clear that Rick's self-destructive tendencies will drive Unity away. After she ultimately leaves Rick, it becomes apparent to Rick that there is no "one thing" that will ever give him the happiness that he craves. Despite the fact that Rick posses the ability to flee into a different dimension, if he wanted to escape the consequences of his mistakes, he in unable to for the sole reason that the Universe may change, but Rick Sanchez will remain the same destructive, depressed individual. With the God-like ability to shift the world around him, Rick cannot make himself happy.


Both of these surreal comedies are perfect allegories for what it is like for the average person living with depression. Depressed people cannot will themselves out of depression, it is a demon that continually tears into their mind as they live each and every day. Depression cannot be cured through success, or love, or some intangible idea. The cure for depression is treatment, because depression is not a state of mind, it is an illness. It is thanks to the writers on these major television shows, that the viewing public may gain a different perspective of what it means to be depressed.

Cover Image Credit: The Independent

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The 5 People You WON'T Meet In Heaven: Hollywood Edition

Despite their significant influence, they will not be found in Heaven.

Some of you, or none of you, may be familiar with Mitch Albom’s best-seller, The Five People You Meet In Heaven. In the novel, the protagonist meets five people who profoundly influenced his life or vice versa, and he learns about the reasons for their or his own influence.

In 2017, and long before, the following high-profile Hollywood men were accused of sexual misconduct in ranging degrees.

Although these men differ in circumstances and their influence on the United States’ social climate, they all remain individuals who you should not expect to see in Heaven.

1. Bill Cosby

As of June 2017, CNN reported that over 50 women accused Bill Cosby of sexual misconduct. The allegations against Cosby began as early as 2000, but intensified in October 2014 when comedian Hannibal Buress’ routine went viral, where he alluded to Cosby's misdemeanors, and women began to speak out and identify themselves as those who he abused. The allegations included reports that he would “forcibly grab and kiss” women, and many alleged that they were raped by Cosby. The link between the women who came forward was their confirmation that he drugged them, and then for some that there were periods of time that they could not account for before waking up unclothed or disheveled. As the number of accusers reached the twenties, The Washington Post reported in December 2014 that colleges — including his alma mater, University of Massachusetts at Amherst — severed ties with Cosby. More recently, The New York Times reported that Cosby’s case was declared a mistrial on June 17, 2017, and it was published on Aug. 22, 2017 that the retrial would be postponed until March, five months later than originally planned.

2. Harvey Weinstein

As recently as Dec. 13, 2017, USA Today published an updated list of the 84 accusers who came forth with allegations against Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. Weinstein denied the allegations leveled against him, which ranged from propositions for massages to rape, according to USA Today. The one silver-lining to be found following the explosive details published by The New York Times and The New Yorker in October 2017 is the #MeToo movement, which ignited many individuals to share their stories of sexual harassment or assault in the workplace. Nonetheless, Weinstein’s grossly inappropriate actions not only violated dozens of women, but also preyed upon many young women who were trying to enter the entertainment industry and were barely legal.

3. Kevin Spacey

Kevin Spacey made headlines when Buzzfeed News published an interview on Oct. 30, 2017, where actor Anthony Rapp alleged that Spacey “made a sexual advance towards him when Rapp was 14.” Rapp, who is now 46, claimed the advance occurred during a party at Spacey’s apartment in 1986, and that the older actor laid on top of him. BBC News also reported other men who came forward with allegations of harassment and assault that Spacey directed toward them. Additionally, CNN reported that the “House of Cards” set was a “toxic” environment due to Spacey’s inappropriate behavior aimed toward crew members who worked alongside Spacey on the series. Amidst the accusations and denouncements from other celebrities — and Netflix and the International Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, who refused to work on the final season of “House of Cards” if Spacey was involved and award him a special Emmy award, respectively — Spacey was also condemned for publicly recognizing in an official statement that he “choose[s] now to live as a gay man."

4. Woody Allen

Woody Allen is still a household name despite the allegations from his adopted daughter with Mia Farrow, Dylan Farrow, that he sexually abused her in 1992 when she was 7-years-old. As Farrow recounted decades ago, she was brought by Allen into the attic, and it was there that he allegedly laid his head on her lap with his face toward her body. Her claims were supported by adult witnesses on the day in question. Vanity Fair reported that on the day in question, one babysitter stated, “Allen and Dylan went missing for 15 or 20 minutes”, another claimed that Farrow was “staring vacantly in the direction of a television set” and a French tutor testified that Farrow was not wearing underpants under her sundress. More recently, Farrow decided to sit down with co-host Gayle King of “CBS This Morning” in a Jan. 18 interview that discussed the allegations. Separately, Allen is also married to Soon-Yi Previn, who he began an affair with while still in a relationship with Previn’s adoptive mother, Mia Farrow. Allen denied that he was in any way a father-figure toward Previn or any of Farrow’s adopted children, according to Salon.

5. Louis C.K.

Following the string of accusations toward men in Hollywood, Louis C.K. was accused by five women on Nov. 9, 2017 of sexual misconduct, according to The New York Times. The first pair of women, comedians Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov, recalled Louis C.K. inviting them to his hotel room for a nightcap after a show. He then removed his clothes and masturbated in front of them, after asking if he could take out his penis, which they initially thought was a joke. Other women came forward as well, one stating that during a phone conversation she could hear him masturbating, and another claiming that he asked her if he could masturbate in front of her, which she declined. Louis C.K. later released a statement that “These stories are true.”

Cover Image Credit: Entertainment Tonight

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Spiritual Warfare inside of her Poetic Spirit

"I feel like I'm drowning in my waste of impatience." Mrs. Powercouple

Continuing to type Mrs. Powercouple begins this quest using poetry. 

"I feel like I'm drowning in my waste of impatience. I'm taking the snakes fate for this fake reality I'm now faced with causing my destiny hatred. This snare is impairing my love and care, I ask him to leave and he disappears, then comes back clearing away all the paths paved to my heart. He tells me lies like Mr. P wouldn't waste his time loving a woman like I. Instead I should expect to be alone for the rest of my life. Day and night I await, while I sit alone and pace, faced with this intake of lies. My moods throw in a loop, I'm now confused with which feeling to choose from. If I'm too happy I'll lose it and end up bruised but then I get too hurt and gain enthusiasm from it's intake. Sometimes I misplace my loves steps with my mistakes. Mr. Powercouple deserves heaven but part of my spirit is still fighting with the gate keepers. The sneaky testers, testing my patience, gaining treasures from the pleasures of having a woman's attention. Their pain is my hex because I am blessed and cursed with compassion. If anyone happened to get hurt because of me I would lose my mind. I find myself climbing through this obstacle of time, but with each pull my arm gets cut from the incline. It's like the bars are knives, but with each reach I learn to be stronger. I guess that's where the savage in me is created, because although I am a slave to my sin, I also know there is hope for me to be saved. Especially when I'm caved in, suffocating from the ashes of the graved men. I know my blood shed is my shield so I refuse to die in-vain when it's my time to go."

An older man's breath from behind her hums the expression, "Pst" forcing Mrs. P to turn around. "I'm sorry ma'am but your name wasn't on the sign in sheet and there is a line waiting to use the computers." Blinking her eyes back to reality, Mrs. P apologizes and saves her work. Leaving the library, she looks back in gratitude then continues on her way. 

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