Posted in episodes

Episode 10: Pop Culture Perceptions of Mental Health

The homework for the episode:
Pete: Spellbound, 1945 film by Alfred Hitchcock
Martha: Legion, 1.01 and 1.02
Calee: Adventures in Depression, parts 1 & 2 by Allie Brosh (part of

Mr. “John Brown”––a patient suffering from psychogenic amnesia––is accused of murder, but he cannot recall what happened. Hopefully his psychoanalyst can cure him of “the devils of unreason” and prove his innocence.

David Haller has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and is a patient in a psychiatric hospital. But is his disorder actually a manifestation of super-cool mutant powers?

Allie Brosh bluntly describes what depression is like in ways that those who have never experienced it can begin to empathize with and understand.

What’s going on? We’re looking at pop culture portrayals of mental health issues. How have these portrayals changed over time? Is it better to view mental illness through the lens of fiction or autobiography? And our ongoing through-line of empathy continues to play its part, as we discuss how media portrayals can help people develop empathy, grapple with mental health issues, and the benefits and risks of how the media portrays mental health.

Your podcasters’ credentials:

Pete: Evicted by Matthew Desmond
Martha: Something Positive webcomic archive (located here)
Calee: The Good Place, NBC sitcom

Pete is seriously proselytizing Evicted as mandatory reading (Martha wanted more of a call to arms and less of a narrative angle), we all get nostalgic for legacy web comics, and Calee and Martha yell at Pete to watch The Good Place, which is apparently what it would look like if Bryan Fuller opened a FroYo shop in Heaven.

Pop Culture and Mental Health: Discussion Questions and Big Ideas

  1. In general, media portrays struggles with mental health in one of three ways: demonizing it, romanticizing it, or normalizing it. Where do we feel our homework pieces fall on this spectrum?
  2. How have media portrayals of mental health evolved over time?All experiences with mental health issues are different and specific to the person experiencing them.
  3. How can pop culture and media help us find common ground in something that is so radically different from person to person? How can we use pop culture to work towards a normalizing view of mental health struggles?

Martha mentions the article “How Mental Illness is Misrepresented in the Media” by Kristin Fawcett in the episode, read it here. Pete mentions 50 First Dates. Don’t watch it.

Our theme for our next episode is going to be: Grief in and through Pop Culture. Enjoy doing your homework!

Your homework for June 7:
Pete: A homework in three parts:

  1. Listen to the album The Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. (YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, everywhere fine music can be heard)
  2. Read the review for the album from Pitchfork and the Wikipedia page about the album.
  3. Listen to the album a second time. (and a third, fourth, twentieth…)

Martha: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer (YA novel)
Calee: Scrubs, 5.21 and 5.22 (tv show)

And remember, if you have questions, comments, or ideas for a show, give us a shoutout here or send us an e-mail to We’d love to hear from you!



The home on the web for Did You Do Your Homework? The pop culture podcast that teaches you everything about anything using media tools. Catch our bi-weekly episodes and read our comprehensive syllabi, and don't forget to do your homework!

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