As this blog finds its voice, I am starting to see it becoming a combination of psychology news, editorial, and a look into other parts of this psych professor’s life. As a fan of pop-culture with an inability to take off the psychological science lenses through which I have learned to see the world, pop-culture, especially TV and movies, is both a refuge for my brain as well as fertile ground for new questions, insights, and opinions. One of my research interests is how mental illness is portrayed in popular culture, both good and bad, but I also find myself pausing shows frequently, to the chagrin of my viewing partners, to ponder why a show is popular, what part of the current American psyche it is speaking to or from, and why the showrunners are making the choices that they are.
With this in mind, I will occasionally share a bit about what I am listening to, watching, or reading, and sometimes go into more detail about why I think it is important, interesting, or just a recommendation from me to anyone, psychologist, psychology student, or otherwise who is looking for something new to enjoy/overthink.
So for now, just a few recommendations. Some of these were binge-watched already, some are ongoing, and some are current obsessions. This is not an exhaustive list by far and will be added to, and expanded upon, in the future. Some will get their own blog post(s) when the time feels right.
Sense8 This show came out of nowhere and took over my life for its first season. I was not the only one to be delightfully surprised by this gem and it became so popular that public outcry brought it back, at least temporarily (see photo, above). The characters are well-developed, and remind me of one idea regarding Dissociative Identity Disorder (a.k.a. DID, or Multiple Personality Disorder) that encourages the identities to be seen as parts of a whole personality. We all have parts of ourselves better suited to certain situations, or that seem to come out more prominently at certain times, and this sci-fi-esque take on the idea has truly different but connected individuals each contributing their skills and traits for the betterment of the whole. I think of it like how we each have the child-like part of ourselves, the passionate part, the altruistic part, the aggressive part, etc. But for those of us without DID (and without a “cluster” as in Sense8), we recognize that these are all part of our own unique and shifting self. Add to all of this the incredibly natural LGBTQ+ representation and you have something irresistible to me.
Legion I maintain that this is the best series in the Marvel TV universe. It is twisted, confusing, visually stunning, and will absolutely get its own series of posts in the near future.
The Handmaid’s Tale This one is fairly obvious and also likely to get it’s own series of posts.
GLOW Probably less obvious, but the themes of good vs. bad, masculinity and femininity, and the throwback to the 80s make this one well worth the time. And possibly a post once I finish watching the second season!
The Good Place The smartest sit-com on TV. Don’t @ me.
RuPaul’s Drag Race This one may have sparked a new direction for my research, as well as nights (and a Sunday morning) out enjoying the art of drag. There is a lot to unpack with this phenomenon happening at this particular time, but I fear much of it may be sociological and therefore outside my area of expertise. That won’t stop me from both enjoying the show and starting a reading list for a possible study or manuscript…
So that is just a start. Stay tuned for more pop-culture posts and recommendations from this pop-culture-obsessed psych prof!