TV shows can serve a variety of purposes — from being the perfect Friday night evening with your significant other to a place where you can distract and unwind from daily stressors. One of the most effective aspects of television? It makes us feel a lot less alone. Whether it’s a show on getting through heartbreak or what it means to be a mom, many viewers turn to TV as a reliable friend.
And, with the premiere of Apple TV+’s new show Shrinking, we’re taking a special look at shows that tackle grief, a sentiment that’s so often misrepresented on-screen.
In these 11 shows below, raw and real grief isn’t something that’s shied away from, it’s something depicted fully, from the ups to the many downs.
Marvel’s Wandavision, for example, tells the story of Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), a woman who’s so distraught with grief over the death of her partner, Vision (Paul Bettany), and her brother Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), that she creates her own reality to mask the pain. In an entirely different universe, After Life tells the story of Tony (played by Ricky Gervais), who resorts to anger and bitterness after the loss of his wife to cancer.
Regardless of which show you choose to watch from the list, we hope that the grieving process can be understood for its many complexities and — most of all — you feel a lot less alone.
In Apple TV+’s new show Shrinking, Jason Segel plays Jimmy Laird, a therapist, father and widower who’s struggling with every single one of those roles. Together with a star-studded cast of Harrison Ford, Jessica Williams and Christa Miller, the show explores the ups and downs of grief – and doesn’t shy away from the humor either.
Shrinking is now available for streaming on Apple TV+.
‘Dead to Me’
Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini star as Jen and Judy in Netflix’s Dead to Me. The two strangers, who meet at a grief support group, begin to rely on one another as they go through their own complex journeys with mourning.
Stream the three seasons on Netflix.
In Marvel’s Wandavision, Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch is so distraught with grief over the death of her partner, Vision (Paul Bettany), and her brother Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), that she creates her own reality to mask the pain. This is a fascinating and whimsical approach to tackling a grief story.
Stream on Disney+.
‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’
If you’re a fan of musicals, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist may be just the show you’re looking for. Based on the premise that Zoey (Jane Levy) can read people’s emotions through impromptu music videos, the show mixes moments of joy and glee with moments of true loss and sadness. Most poignantly, her father (played by Peter Gallagher) is diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and we get to see how the family deals with the loss of their patriarch, even before he’s actually gone.
Stream on Peacock.
‘Jane the Virgin’
Even though it’s a light-hearted telenovela-inspired show, Jane the Virgin gets many things right when it comes to dealing with grief. From the panic attacks and anxiety to slipping from dark to light to dark, Gina Rodriguez perfectly depicts the complex journey of grief.
Stream on Netflix.
‘And Just Like That…’
In the first episode of Sex and the City‘s reboot show And Just Like That…, Carrie Bradshaw (played by Sarah Jessica Parker) suffers an unfathomable loss. Though the show has since received plenty of criticism from fans worldwide, there’s one thing fans can agree on: it gets grief right. From the dull moments of reflection, to the big milestones, Carrie undergoes mourning and grief in a real and heartbreaking way.
Watch on HBO Max.
‘This Is Us’
Out of all the shows listed, This Is Us will probably pull at your heartstrings the most. Without giving any spoilers, the series tells the story of the Pearson family, a semi-united family that is still processing the sudden loss of their father Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) some 20 years ago. As the years go by (the show has 6 seasons) the Pearsons continue to deal with love, heartbreak, and even more loss. It’s raw, human and not afraid to make you sob like a baby.
Stream on Hulu.
‘Life & Beth’
After the sudden loss of her mother, Beth (played by Amy Schumer) reflects on her own life and begins to make some drastic changes. “I just feel that if you don’t deal with your traumas, they’re going to hurt you both mentally and physically and I wanted to make a show about that,” Schumer, who wrote, directed, and starred in the show, said to The View.
Stream the show on Hulu.
‘Never Have I Ever’
When this coming-of-age show begins, Never Have I Ever‘s protagonist Devi Vishwakumar (played by newcomer Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) has just lost her dad in a tragic and traumatic way. As the show goes on, Devi attempts to return to “normal” teenage life, but is often visited by her dad and the memories they shared together.
All three seasons available on Netflix.
‘Sorry for Your Loss’
Elizabeth Olsen once again tackles the complexities of grief in Sorry for Your Loss. In the drama series, Olsen plays Leigh, a young window who just lost her husband and is trying to put the pieces of her life, and his death, back together.
Stream the series’ two seasons on Facebook Watch.
Starring British comedian Ricky Gervais, After Life tells the story of Tony, a man who just lost his wife Lisa and is having to cope with life without her. Given how angry and bitter Tony is after her death, this show is the perfect example of the dark and angry sides of grief.
All three seasons are available now on Netflix.
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