Mental health has always been a very difficult issue to represent in a film or television work.
Even today it is, in fact, often minimized and at times opposed by producers; however, more and more people are asking for an adequate representation, mostly belonging to the youth groups.
Young people in the last two years, the cause of the pandemic, are in fact those who have suffered most from mental disorders such as, for example, anxiety and depression. In the last decade, within the series, however, an attempt has been made to give mental health the right importance; just think of how many television products have managed very well to represent bipolar disorder. This is the case of Shameless , present on Prime Video, where two characters are affected by this disease that leads them to have sudden mood changes, going from euphoria to depression within a few hours. A vision, if possible even more exasperating and real, of bipolarity was shown in the TV series Homeland present on Disney + , with the protagonist Carrie Mathison played by a talented Claire Danes . The latter has managed to win two Emmy Awards , precisely for her extraordinary performance by this unstable CIA agent. In 2018, however, it is the Netflix platform with the Maniac miniseries , starring Emma Stone andJonah Hill , to take the representation of mental illness to a higher state. It allows the characters to fight and overcome their inner trauma, so as to give dignity to this theme.
Still in reference to mental health, on November 14 Netflix will distribute the documentary Stutz starring Jonah Hill , the actor will then have the opportunity to tell the delicate moment that is currently going through. In recent years it is, therefore, the Reed Hastings platform that has offered an important stage to the issue, besides Stutz , in 2022 it was in fact the protagonist of two other original productions: Stranger Things and Everything asks for salvation .
Stranger Things 4: Max’s Race Against Depression
Before its fourth season Stranger Things , a TV series created by the Duffer brothers and become a trademark for Netflix , had never faced such delicate issues. In the collective imagination it has in fact always stood out for its references and homages to the 80s, a decade that has remained in the hearts of many people, or for the eternal struggle between good and evil. The show did a good job, albeit with a few flaws in seasons 2 and 3, but it had never gone as far as it did in the fourth season; he was never a Buffy the vampire slayer, where demons and monsters were mostly used as metaphors for real life or adolescent fears. It has, therefore, greatly surprised the inclusion of depression within the fourth season plot. Viewers from the first episode see the character of Max ( Sadie Sink ) totally off, different from how he was known in the previous two seasons. Before the death of his brother Billy ( Dacre Montgomery ), Max was indeed the sunniest character in Stranger Things ; a new entry of season two who had been able to make space within a consolidated group and not only for his beauty, but also and above all for his character.
Following the tragic event, the girl closes in on herself and it will be her loneliness to distance her from all her friends, even from her boyfriend Lucas ( Caleb McLaughlin ). For this reason it will represent the perfect victim for Vecna , the main enemy of the season (and not only). Like a modern day Freddy Krueger , Vecna sneaks into the minds of the victims, each of whom is facing trauma, which he uses to kill them. In the fourth (splendid) episode Max , after writing a letter addressed to his brother, in which he blames himself for not having saved him, will temporarily be able to defuse Vecnaand this thanks to the power of music; the demon can in fact be “fought” by the most beloved song of the victims. Here, then, explains the intense sequence in which we see Max ‘s friends running to her rescue, making her listen to her favorite song: Kate Bush ‘s Running Up That Hill .
The girl, at that moment in the upside down with Vecna , listening to these notes will understand that she is not alone and that her friends are there for her, so she will be able to free herself by actually returning to live. In the finale, following a plan gone wrong, Max will end up back in the clutches of the enemy but this time there will be no Kate Bush to save her (but Eleven ). The message launched by the series is still very strong: even when we believe we are alone, we are not. There will always be someone, like music, to save us.
Everything asks for salvation: Don’t call them sick
It is not finished yet but the 2022 television is surprising more and more, Everything calls for salvation is the Netflix series that viewers absolutely needed. An all-Italian production, taken from the homonymous book by Daniele Mencarelli , which we would never have thought of seeing in our country; in fact, in Italy, mental health is still a taboo and little represented topic. The series tells the story of Daniele , played by an increasingly talented Federico Cesari , and his forced hospitalization in a psychiatric hospital. When the boy becomes aware of the reality in which he finds himself he begins to lose control, Danielein fact, he does not feel sick like the other inhabitants of the facility and this leads him to believe that he does not need help. With the passing of the episodes, however, the protagonist will accept the condition of him, deciding to face the week of TSO in the fairest possible way: with normality. To help him will be the doctors of the hospital but mainly his roommates, in fact, after an initial diffidence Danielehe will bond a lot with them and together they will be able to see not only the ugly, but above all the beauty of life. In just seven days the protagonist will find a second family, capable of supporting him in the understandable moments of down and he himself will become a point of reference for them; the protagonist will lay bare giving an important lesson to the spectators: there is nothing more normal than being sick. Don’t be ashamed because every person in his life faces dark moments, the real challenge is to be able to overcome them.
In the TV series, therefore, we do not become attached only to Daniele but also to Gianluca ( Vincenzo Crea ), Mario ( Andrea Pennacchi ), Giorgio ( Lorenzo Renzi ) and Nina ( Fotinì Peluso ). The latter is perhaps the only creative license taken from the television transposition, very faithful, her character not only serves as a love interest of the protagonist but is used to describe the relationship that an influencer can have with social networks.
Daniele Mencarelli with the book gave birth to a sort of autobiographical story, it is no coincidence that the protagonist is called just like him. The author in 1994, following a sudden outburst of anger, underwent a TSO resulting in a seven-day hospitalization. It is thanks to his courage that Everything asks for salvation was first able to become a book, much appreciated, and subsequently a television production of which we Italians must be proud.
Is mental health, then, finally getting the dignity it deserves? Perhaps it is too early to give an answer, but the path taken is certainly the right one. The stories of Max and Daniele have shown us: there is nothing wrong with admitting that you have a problem. Also on the Netflix platform , a documentary is coming, Stutz , entirely dedicated to this topic. We hope to see another great response from the public.