These Shows are Successfully Commenting on Social Justice Issues

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While some of these shows might be making political statements, some are simply addressing real issues our country is currently facing.

They present their messages in effective ways that strongly resonate with viewers and do so seamlessly. 

It's important that these topics get discussed on the big screen because shows reach millions of viewers. It allows for people to open their minds and for others to feel understood.  

A Million Little Things

A Million Little Things - Social Justice Season 2 Episode 1

A Milion Little Things is an emotionally powerful show that puts significant emphasis on the mental health of men.

It's an issue that doesn't seem to receive as much attention as it should. 

Related: 13 Reasons Why Poorly Represents the LGBTQ+ Community

Rome's struggle with depression is an emotional storyline, but it's beautifully portrayed.

The side-by-side stories of the effects of depression with Jon and Rome place strong importance on seeking help.  

Jon - A Million Little Things Season 1 Episode 17

Additionally, it shows the guilt friends and family feel when they are unaware of the emotional trials the person is feeling and offers solace to those in the same situation.

Mental health is a topic typically discussed among women, and it's admirable that A Million Little Things is stepping out of that mold to show that it's just as common in men. 

The Good Doctor

Good Doctor - The Good Doctor

There's controversy about the truthfulness of The Good Doctor's portrayal of autism, but there's controversy with any representation on television.

Shows like Atypical and The Good Doctor offer visibility for people with autism as more than a background character. 

It highlights the concept that people with autism are more than their disability and capable of much more than our assumptions. 

Shaun Murphy - The Good Doctor

Writing about a person with autism poses a challenge for many TV writers because the spectrum is extensive and varies from person to person.

But it's a challenge that shouldn't cause anyone to shy away. 

The Good Doctor has received accolades for its representation of autism and savant syndrome, and Freddie Highmore does a phenomenal job with his portrayal of Shaun.

Black Mirror 

Black Mirror

Black Mirror typically focuses on issues of technology within humanity but has also taken a step in tackling black history in America.

Black Museum offers a harsh critique of racism in America, particularly systemic racism and parts of black history we tend to forget. It uses a touch of sci-fi to handle the issue. 

Letitia Wright - Black Mirror

Through the story of Nish and her father, Clayton, who was falsely imprisoned and accused of murder, we're faced with metaphorical symbolism of the tragedies our country has inflicted on black people.

The lever pulls the museum owner sells to disturbed racists and sadists present a sad narrative of the abuses black people continually face.

The Bold Type

The Bold Type, gun  Season 2 Episode 7

The Bold Type covers various topics including the Me Too Movement, women's rights, and gun rights.

Not many shows have attempted to tackle the literal conversation of gun control, and in the wake of all the recent shootings, it's certainly relevant.

It handles the issue in a way that's not overdone or overdramatic, steering clear of the formula most shows follow when portraying gun violence.

The subtlety of The Bold Type Season 2 Episode 7 fits perfectly with its style of commenting on global issues.

Jane firing gun - The Bold Type Season 2 Episode 7

It becomes a conversation between friends and resolves with a mutual understanding. 

Sutton takes Jane to a shooting range to try and share her own perspective of gun ownership.

Although Jane leaves feeling confirmed with her original opinion, she learns and exhibits the importance of listening and attempting to see the other side rather than shutting down the conversation. 

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Social Justice Season 3 Episode 6

Through song and dance, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend presents strong humorous commentary on an array of important topics ranging from feminism and sexuality to current political issues. 

It's most importantly known for its normalization of mental health. 

Related: 17 TV Actors Who Portrayed Their Truths on the Big Screen

Rebecca Bunch's struggle with Borderline Personality Disorder breaks down the stigma typically associated with mental illnesses. 

Rebecca Bunch - Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

With its original songs, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend communicates the message lightheartedly, but still in an impactful way. 

Her honest representation as someone who struggles with mental illness and eventually finds comfort in a diagnosis acts as a model for those who seek answers, as well. 


Euphoria - Body Positivity

Euphoria is making waves in presenting a not-so-glamorous life of a class of high schoolers. 

While other shows are focused on creating picturesque high school experiences, Euphoria breaks down the stories of its characters and shares humanized points of view. 

That is especially true with Kat Hernandez's story and reclaiming the "fat girl" trope.

Kat- Euphoria

She's certainly not the fat best friend; instead, she's the badass exploring her sexuality and living her own life. 

Especially with the body positivity movement sweeping the nation, it was only a matter of time before it would reach television.

The movement seeks to empower individuals who have been marginalized due to their size or weight, and it's pertinent the entertainment industry works to change a narrative they originally built and enforced. 

Good Trouble

Good Trouble - Social Justice

Aside from its predecessor, The Fosters, whose main outreach was primarily bringing light to the foster care system with a tinge of LGBT, Good Trouble focuses on the justice system.

Callie's main court cases are centered around black lives matter. The Jamal Thompson case acts as an overall presentation of the number of unarmed black men who have been shot by police and received no justice. 

Good Trouble does a job well done in presenting these stories and raising awareness. 

Grey's Anatomy

Grey's Anatomy - Health Insurance Season 15 Episode 24

For a show that's been on since the early 2000s, Grey's Anatomy has had the opportunity to include numerous accounts of current events buzzing in the news. 

Grey's Anatomy Season 16 looks at a hotly debated topic -- affordable healthcare and healthcare insurance. And it presents it from a doctor's perspective. 

Meredith has never experienced challenges receiving healthcare, but when she is faced with a patient who can't afford care because they don't have insurance, it opens her eyes to the challenges and struggles of receiving affordable healthcare. 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Social Justice  - The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is set in the mid-60s when questions of gender were at large. Women in the workforce, especially in comedy, were not well received. 

The show follows her evolution from a stay-at-home mom who's focused solely on her looks, who eventually breaks out of the mold and pursues comedy, a male-dominated field. 

Mrs. Maisel fights gender discrimination and drives home that women's talents aren't capped because of their sex. 


Supergirl - Social Justice

The fight between aliens and humans on Supergirl is pretty indicative of the current immigration issues our country is fighting. 

The parallels between the show and the real world are ironic, and using the actual form of an alien to mimic "illegal aliens" today is downright clever. 

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Humans are fine with aliens when they're in human form, but when they reveal their true identity, chaos ensues.

There's no way to tell an undocumented immigrant apart from any other person. It's a matter of paperwork; it doesn't make them any less of a human.


Younger - Social Justice

Younger is tackling a topic that seems to fly under the radar most times but is still problematic.

The show breaks down the phenomonon of age-based discrimination.

When Liza is turned down because of her age rather than her skills and history, it leads her to fake her age simply to receive an entry-level job.

It forces us to reevaluate our own assumptions and the way we perceive age. It shares the message that age should not be a dividing factor. 

Liza and Kelsey  - Younger

These shows aren't without their flaws.

Nothing can represent a perfect opinion, but they are opening the conversation and representation of a handful of big issues. 

Some make us think in abstract ways, while others are straightforward. Either way, they make us active rather than passive viewers. 

Please comment your thoughts below and continue the conversation.

Inga Parkel was a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She left the organization in June 2020.

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