Sad Girl Cinema (obviously) isn’t the final word in the ever-shifting space of screen representation and mental health! Here’s a small selection of incredible writing and publications on film and television to continue the conversation <3

Essays and Articles

Alaina Leary, How Media Prevents Us From Truly Empathizing With Disabled Characters, The Establishment

Anna Leszkiewicz, Ten years on, how Cassie from Skins’ eating disorder affected a generation of teenage girls, New Statesman

Anna Leszkiewicz, Is new Netflix drama To The Bone glorifying eating disorders?, New Statesman

Ariel Smith, Trespassed Lands, Transgressed Bodies: Horror, Rage, Rape, and Vengeance Within Indigenous Cinema, Bitch Flicks

Aaron Orbey, Mourning Through Horror Movies, The New Yorker

Angelica Jade Bastién, What TV Gets Wrong About Mental Illness, Vulture

Angelica Jade Bastién, Why don’t women of color get to be mentally ill on TV?, Fusion

B.N. Harrison, The Unified Theory of Ophelia: On Women, Writing, and Mental Illness, The Toast

Brodie Lancaster, Really Funny, Rookie Magazine

Eve Sturges, OCD and Me, Rookie Magazine

Hannah Black, You are Too Much, The New Inquiry

Hannah Ewens, Meeting the People Who Make Mental Health Storylines On TV Look Realistic, Vice

Janiera Eldridge, Why Gothika exposes the hidden thoughts of every black woman who’s ever experienced mental illness, Graveyard Shift Sisters

Kristina Wong, I Thought Being Miserable Was Just Part Of Being Chinese American, xoJane

Lakesha Lafayett, Dark Times Under the Radar: Black Women and Mental Illness, Adios Barbie

Maria Turner Carney, How Queer Women’s Mental Health is Depicted in Movies, After Ellen

Matt Zoller Seitz, What Sharp Objects Understands About Memory, Vulture

Maya Golden, I Am Rocket: A Reflection on PTSD from a Sexual Trauma Survivor, Black Girl Nerds

Mel Perez, Mental Health and the Strong Black Woman Trope, Black Girl Nerds

Mey Rude, Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Trans Woman? On Horror and Transfemininity, Autostraddle

Nyasha Junior, Don’t We Hurt Like You? Examining the Lack of Portrayals of African American Women and Mental Health, Bitch Media

Parul Sehgal, The Forced Heroism of the ‘Survivor’, New York Times

Riese, 105 Trans Women On American TV: A History and Analysis, Autostraddle

Rose Lyddon, The Acceptable Performance of Insanity, Girl Fury

Ruby Tandoh, An illustrated taxonomy of queerness and mental illness in film, Little White Lies

Shannon M. Houston, Is it Still “Diversity” or “Inclusion” if No One’s Broke on TV?, Paste Magazine

Soraya Roberts, Winona, Forever, Hazlitt

Tahiera Overmeyer, ‘Being black, going crazy?’ shows we need more conversations about mental health, Gal Dem

Vanessa Willoughby, Black Girls Don’t Read Sylvia Plath, The Hair Pin

Vilissa Thompson, Disability, Slavery, & The Call to #PickUpUnderground, Ramp Your Voice

Willow Maclay, Someday You Will Ache Like I Ache, SVLLY(WOOD) MAGAZINE



Alana Massey, All the Lives I want (Grand Central Publishing: 2017)

bell hooks, Black Looks: Race and Representation (Routledge: 2014)

Glen O. Gabbard, Krin Gabbard, Psychiatry and the Cinema (American Psychiatric Press Inc: 1999)

Kier-La Janisse, House of Psychotic Women (FAB Press: 2012)

Nancy Wang Yuen, Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism (Rutgers: 2016)

Sady Doyle, Trainwreck (Melville House: 2016)








Journals and Zines

Cleo Journal

Filmme Fatales

Sonorus Zine: Feminist Perspectives on Harry Potter

SVLLY(wood) Magazine



Sad Girl Cinema is an ongoing documentary film project exploring mental health narratives in screen culture created by artist Claire Biddles and writer Bethany Rose Lamont and designed by Maggie Webster.

We navigate our way through a whole bunch of pop cultural clichés. Sorted into three themes:

  • therapy on screen, the mental health ward on screen
  • ‘tortured geniuses
  • tragic muses’ on screen

Alongside these themed chapters, the documentary also features three first person chapters. These focus on the nuances of engaging with mental health screen representation for those of us who are actually struggling with mental health issues ourselves. The first-person chapters are as follows:

  • ‘I’m too poor to be one of the Girlfriends’: Imade Nibokun on therapy and classism in the tv series ‘Girlfriends’ (2000-2008)
  • ‘Queer in the Psych Ward’: Lisa Ruiz on medical homophobia in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012)
  • ‘Hair and the Hollywood Imagination’: Izzy Leslie on representing trichotillomania in the film ‘Young Adult’ (2011)

Inspired by the work of Charlie Lyne (‘Fear Itself’, ‘Copycat’ and ‘Beyond Clueless’), Ross Sutherland (‘Stand by For Tape Back Up’), Jeffrey Friedman and Rob Epstein’s ‘The Celluloid Closet’ we’re interested in combining archival film footage with first person reflections to provide a bridge between the imagined fairy tales of tortured geniuses, sad white girls and creepy serial killers with the shit we actually have to deal with every day. Rooted in self-advocacy we explore the intersecting oppressions in the cinematic imagination of mental illness.

We encourage audience participation and talk back to the screen.

We also have a lot of feelings about Leonardo DiCaprio.

You can also connect with us on Twitter and Tumblr and find out more about us over at Not So Popular.