In writing my latest post, I tried to think of other examples of therapy in movies and TV from recent years, and honestly, I couldn’t come up with a ton.
There’s an example of couples therapy and then individual therapy in Big Little Lies that was lauded in Season 1 and frequently critiqued in Season 2 (I don’t want to spoil anything in case you haven’t read or seen it!). It’s an important example of the need for therapy in extreme situations but may not be the most applicable example (hopefully) to most people.
How I Met Your Mother includes an example of court-mandated therapy not meant to be taken seriously (I hope) considering that the therapist then dates the woman he was supposed to be helping and becomes part of the dysfunctional group (and names their dysfunction at some point which just points out how dysfunctional the whole show had become on the whole).
Another show that demonstrates a somewhat-controversial therapist-patient relationship, but who is definitely an amazing character, is Lucifer.
In the show, the Devil goes by Lucifer Morningstar and he has left hell to run a night club in LA and he decides that like many LA denizens he would benefit from therapy to work through some of his issues including his complicated feelings for and relationships with his family, including all his angel brothers and his father (God). Lucifer is conflicted about his role as the King of Hell, especially after being his father’s favored son and an angel of light.
Dr. Martin offers Lucifer excellent advice handling his family issues even though she does not know that he is actually the King of Hell at the beginning. The picture describes how frustrated she gets when Lucifer talks candidly about his past and family before she realizes that he is in fact the Devil.
Lucifer at times embraces his bad side as his destiny but also struggles with wanting to be a good person, friend, leader, and eventually a good romantic partner. Unfortunately, Lucifer often doesn’t take Dr. Martin’s advice or misinterprets it, yet he still learns from and continues to go to therapy and grow as a character, as a result. She teaches him how to be a deeply feeling person who can love and care about a human. She teaches him to care for himself and not rely on others for his self-worth or assume that evil is all that he can be and that’s a reason for him to stop trying.
Not only that, but one of his former demon subjects and current friend, Mazikeen attends therapy for help living on Earth—namely getting along with humans and being part of a family. She wants to connect with others because she gets lonely, especially once Lucifer spends more time with humans. This is partly why she turns to Dr. Martin for help and why she celebrates her first job and paycheck as a human with her.
I love this example of the importance of therapy for living a better life even when you don’t have a mental illness diagnosis. And even when you do have a mental illness, therapy isn’t just for handling the worst parts of your illness. Instead, it helps you work through the different challenges you may face as a person in the world.
I think very few of us are free of occasional social anxiety or ruminations or anxious fears, especially in times of great stress personal or global. A good therapist can help us understand these things and our response to them, as well as how to cope and live in a healthy and stable manner. Who can say no to that?
Not even the Devil.