It is clear over the past few years that discussions of mental health within the media are severely lacking, with some television shows and films even stigmatising the portrayal of mental health by connoting those who struggle with said struggles as both ‘crazy’ and ‘scary’. These stereotypes are not only damaging to those with mental health struggles but also inaccurate and unforgiving. Quirky comedy-drama Pure (2019-), written by the incredible Rose Cartwright and Kirstie Swain (Clique), creates a refreshingly informative but fun new face for mental health, making it a hidden gem everyone should sit down and watch.
Pure, which broadcast just last year on Channel 4, follows the life of 24-year-old Marnie (portrayed by the brilliant Charly Clive) who for the last 10 years of her life has been plagued by horrific X-rated thoughts involving anyone and everybody around her. Due to the overwhelming nature of her thoughts, her life has been controlled by bursts of both anxiety and stress, which make even the simplest of tasks seem impossible. From the outset of the programme, we as an audience are thrown in at the deep end of Marnie’s psychological state, with the opening scene depicting Marnie speaking at her parent’s vow renewal whilst her mind and vision is clouded with those around her enacting sexual acts.
As the programme develops Marnie begins seeing a therapist and attending group sessions to help her manage her struggles, and here she meets a new friend Charlie (Joe Cole) who himself struggles with life as a diagnosed sex and alcohol addict. Charlie and Marnie’s budding friendship parallels perfectly the mental health struggles which both individuals face, and we quickly learn that what Marnie believes is an obsession with sex that makes her disgusted with herself is actually a less known form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is incredible for a television show to acknowledge OCD in such a raw and honest way, as I personally had never seen it being depicted in the media apart from when sufferers are shown as ‘neat-freaks’ and represented as misinformed stereotypes.
As Marnie’s character unfolds, it becomes clear that escaping Scotland to understand her vivid and terrifying thoughts helps her to grow and flourish as a person coming to terms with her newly diagnosed OCD. Whilst Marnie travels on a journey of confusion, grief, and self-help, we as an audience begin to see taboos broken through her life and the lives of those that surround her. The show is both charming and funny and is full of love that helps smash the stigma of mental health, one step at a time.
According to OCD-UK, the UK’s leading charity to support those who live and struggle with OCD, it is estimated that over 1% of the population lives with it regardless of their gender, cultural or social background. With OCD more prevalent than you would at first expect, it is worrying to think how little it is discussed. Pure proves that mental health struggles can be an important topic of conversation and can be depicted in an interesting and thought-provoking way that is not simply for our ‘entertainment’, making the show one not to be missed.
Pure is available now on Netflix UK and All 4. You can watch the trailer below.