A therapist meeting with a client

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The TV Treatment: 10 Great Shows About Therapy

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Over the past few decades, mental health counseling has become more and more common—and it’s easy to see reflected in popular entertainment. With viewers fascinated by the stories of TV therapists and their patients, the TV industry has developed plenty of great content. Here are 10 of the best shows about therapy (and where you can stream them now).

“Sex Education” (2019–present)

This delightful British series stars Gillian Anderson (“The X-Files,” “The Fall”) as Jean, a sex therapist whose virginal teenage son, Otis, is perpetually mortified by her frank attitude toward the birds and the bees. But Jean’s reputation comes in handy when Otis is convinced by a rebellious classmate to start his own amateur therapy practice, counseling his chaotically horny peers on all manner of sexual dilemmas…for a small fee, of course. Equal parts raunchy and tender, it’s a fresh coming-of-age comedy for our (semi-)enlightened era.

Where to stream: Netflix

“In Treatment” (2008–2010; 2021–present)

This groundbreaking HBO show stars Gabriel Byrne as Paul, a put-upon psychologist with problems of his own. Each episode is devoted to one session with a different patient (who reappear throughout the season, their storylines unraveling session by session). You’ll find yourself captivated as these lost souls grapple with all manner of high-stakes struggles—from marital problems to childhood trauma to one woman’s maybe-not-so-unrequited passion for Paul himself. “In Treatment” seemingly wrapped up in 2010, but it recently returned to the air with a new season starring Uzo Aduba (“Orange Is the New Black”) in the therapist role. So now is the time to catch up on all 130 episodes!

Where to stream: HBO Max

“Legion” (2017–2019)

If you think comic books and therapy don’t mix, think again! A post-”Downton Abbey” Dan Stevens stars as a superhero who may have schizophrenia… or may simply be tormented by his own telekinetic powers… or maybe it’s a parasitic brain demon? You’ll have to watch to find out. While the show garnered praise for its surprisingly nuanced (if sometimes metaphorical) depiction of a serious mental illness, there’s also plenty of action to keep things fun. In fact, you might want to watch it with a gigabit internet connection to ensure you can fully enjoy the show’s breathtaking visual effects.

Where to stream: Hulu

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (2015–2019)

In this off-the-wall musical comedy series, unhappy attorney Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom) follows an old summer camp boyfriend from NYC to a small town in California, hoping that a rekindled romance will solve her myriad emotional issues. But what begins as a story of unrequited (and unhinged) love blossoms into a hilarious journey of self-discovery, as Rebecca makes unexpected connections in her new town and, yes, starts therapy. Notable for its funny and compassionate portrayal of a character with borderline personality disorder, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” is—like its heroine—zany, lovable and completely one of a kind.

Where to stream: Netflix

“Hannibal” (2013–2015)

Few fictional characters have had more of a cultural impact than everyone’s favorite people-eating psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen makes the character his own with sinister-yet-sexy suavity, while Hugh Dancy provides a much-needed dose of humanity as the tortured FBI profiler Will Graham. (Bonus: more Gillian Anderson/therapist content!)

Where to stream: Hulu

“Necessary Roughness” (2010–2013)

Based on the real-life career of Dr. Donna Dannenfelser, former mental health clinician to the New York Jets, this USA Network series follows tough-as-nails therapist Dr. Dani Santino (Callie Thorne) as she balances counseling troubled football stars with being a single mom to her strong-willed kids. Much of the show’s charm comes from watching five-foot-three Dani drop blistering truth bombs on athletes twice her size. Over the course of the series, she does expand her client list to include all kinds of power players, including entertainment celebs and politicians. “Characters welcome,” indeed!

Where to stream: Peacock

“Monk” (2002–2009)

Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub stars as the title character of this beloved USA Network series, in which he plays a brilliant detective whose OCD (exacerbated after his wife’s murder) completely controls his life… but also enables him to see clues others might overlook. Monk’s eminently patient therapist, Dr. Kroger (Stanley Kamel), provides a grounding presence in his phobia-ridden world, even occasionally helping him solve cases. With eight smash seasons available to stream, “Monk” offers a long-form character study you can really sink your teeth into.

Where to stream: Peacock

“The Sopranos” (1999–2007)

Widely considered the greatest TV show ever made, “The Sopranos” broke ground in its depiction of therapy, starting with the pilot. Finding himself suddenly afflicted with debilitating panic attacks, middle-age mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) seeks guidance from Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), who becomes the every-person entry point into the violent criminal world Tony inhabits. Their ventures into the murky depths of his psyche make for some of the show’s most riveting scenes, which, in a show averaging at least one murder per episode, is really saying something!

Where to stream: HBO Max

“Frasier” (1993–2004)

Tossed salad and scrambled eggs, anyone? With nine years on “Cheers” and an 11-season spinoff of his own, Dr. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) is probably TV’s longest-practicing mental health professional. “Frasier” follows the famously fussy psychiatrist as he moves back to his hometown of Seattle to host a talk-therapy radio show. Once there, he confronts some demons of his own when—at the behest of his equally snobby younger brother (David Hyde Pierce)—he’s forced to move in with his estranged blue-collar dad (John Mahoney), plus dad’s dog and wacky “psychic” caretaker (Jane Leeves). Frasier’s producer, Roz (Peri Gilpin), rounds out the cast of this sophisticated, often surprisingly sweet show about a father and son getting a second chance to love each other for who they are. If that’s not therapeutic, what is?

Where to stream: Hulu

“Masters of Sex” (2013–2016)

If you like your period pieces a little spicy, this is the show for you. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan play the real-life research team of Dr. William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who are seeking to better understand the science of sex against the backdrop of their repressive 1950s society. Naturally, sparks fly between the two. In fairness, this show is less about therapy than the psychology of the vital facet of human existence: sexuality. But regardless of technicalities, “Masters of Sex” offers a sometimes steamy, always fascinating look at the people who paved the way for better, more informed sex lives everywhere.

Where to stream: Prime Video

Program availability may have changed and is subject to change. Streaming services may require a subscription and sometimes an additional fee.

One response to “The TV Treatment: 10 Great Shows About Therapy”

  1. Michael says:

    Fasier is one of the better sitcoms ever made but in this list, Legion is the real diamond. It’s a shame it didn’t get to continue. I would love to see an MCU integration where bringing in mutants adds in other genres of film, including horror and drama, which is right where Legion would fit.

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