I don't usually do this, but I feel compelled to tell you about a show that's available on Netflix, especially if you're looking for some deep, darkly-funny entertainment over the holidays.
The show is called Please Like Me. It's a billed as a "comedy drama" series, but I would describe it as a sitragicom – a situation tragicomedy.
I first saw the show a few years ago when it appeared briefly as a summer fill-in show on CBC. I got hooked. CBC only showed Series 1 and 2, so after those were done I had to hunt down the episodes in Series 3 on sites like YouTube and DailyMotion (usually with terrible sound and image quality).
This fall, Series 1-3 became available on Netflix and I watched all of the episodes again.
The show is centred around a young man named Josh and his friends and family.
At first glance, the show is about Josh coming out and learning how to navigate the world and his sexual territory.
Josh and his best friend Tom seem feckless and insecure. Their friend (and Josh's former girlfriend) Claire is pretty and clever. They are all under-employed and mostly broke and obsessed with things that seem completely trivial.
It could be that show. But the young-people-learning-adulting-through-their-hilarious-experiences premise is basically a cover for a show that is dedicated to a fierce and tender exploration of how people struggle with their mental health and what that experience is like for them and for the people who love them.
Josh's mom, Rose, has bipolar disorder. In the first episode of Series 1, Rose tries to kill herself. Not for the last time, either. Rose spends time in a private psychiatric hospital, where she meets Hannah, Stewart and Ginger. Josh's main love interest, Arnold has a severe anxiety disorder and also spends time at the hospital.
There are so many poignant, funny lines, I can't even begin to tell you about them. The show is hilarious and sly and playful and painful and sad and thought-provoking. There is death and love and and hope and disappointment.
When Josh's dad, Alan (who is just as feckless and insecure as his son) says that he's always felt a bit hopeless as a dad, Josh replies, "Well, you are. I mean, we're all hopeless. I'm hopeless. Arnold's hopeless. Tom, Tom is hopeless."
There are 26 half-hour episodes on Netflix, so if you start binge watching now, you could very easily come up to the fraught and funny Christmas-themed finale of Series 3 at some point on Christmas day.
Warnings: this show contains explicit sexuality, "bad" language, abortion, chicken murder, food porn, lip-syncing, ferris wheels, babies, self-harm, suicide attempts and Australian accents, so if you are not okay with any of those things, this is not the show for you.