7 Movies & Shows about Bipolar—Streaming Now

Last Updated: 25 Feb 2022
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What’s on your “must-watch” list? Any films or series featuring characters who live with bipolar? Check out these shows that keep pushing the conversation forward.


Representation matters. The images, characters, and ideas we agree upon and share with each other can have a significant impact on how—or even whether—we relate to one another.

Your next-door neighbor or coworker may not know what it’s like to live with a brain-based condition like bipolar, what it feels like to experience a manic episode or spend months in a dark depression. But that doesn’t mean they can’t connect with, understand, or support you.

One of the best ways to get to know someone new—or to reconnect with someone—is to chat about what you’re watching.

These shows and films are contributing to those all-important conversations we have each day, over lunch, across the yard, and on the national level. Each features a character with bipolar disorder or addresses important aspects of the diagnosis, whether as a central focus or a supporting element.


Sensitivity Note: Some viewers may find some content, plot points, visual/audio elements, style, and/or language to be upsetting. Please be sure to identify the appropriate age/maturity recommendations for each series or film and assess them for personal triggers prior to watching.

#1 Spinning Out (Netflix)

In its single-season run, Spinning Out centers on the evolution of competitive figure skater Kat Baker, who considers leaving the sport after a bad fall. The Olympic hopeful shifts her focus from solo to pair skating with a new partner, all while grappling with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder and her family’s secret mental health challenges.

#2 Lady Dynamite (Netflix)

Comedian and actor Maria Bamford stars in the Netflix original comedy series Lady Dynamite. The loosely biographical show is based on her hospitalization and subsequent diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Lady Dynamite portrays Bamford’s attempts to rebuild her life in Los Angeles after spending six months in recovery and comedically reflects on her personal backstory as well as her relationships.

#3 All the Bright Places (Netflix)

Jennifer Niven, an author of both fiction and nonfiction—for adults and young adults—took her time writing the award-winning YA novel All the Bright Places, which was recently adapted for film. The main characters of All the Bright Places confront heavy topics ranging from depression, survivor’s guilt, disordered eating, erratic moods, and grief. Niven handles the story carefully and vividly, as it was inspired by her past relationship with a person who lived with bipolar disorder.

#4 Modern Love (Amazon Prime Video)

It started as a column, then became a book, a podcast, and a streaming series. Each episode of Modern Love is based on an essay by writer and former entertainment lawyer Terri Cheney, who revealed her diagnosis of bipolar in a powerful and very public way after hiding her struggles from colleagues and romantic partners for years. In the series, Anne Hathaway brings to life Cheney’s personal experience with bipolar depression and mania.

#5 Inside Out (Disney+)

Although this Academy Award–winning animated film does not overtly discuss bipolar disorder, Inside Out can help people of all ages better understand themselves, their emotions, and each other. Throughout the movie, we follow relatable characters who personify feelings and reside in the mind of the main (human) character. Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust encounter and work through familiar challenges experienced by a child named Riley, who is dealing with the jarring transition of a cross-country move.

#6 Mad World (Netflix)

This indie Japanese film with English subtitles follows a former financial analyst who lives with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder with psychosis. Mad World is recognized for its nuanced, but not necessarily uplifting, approach to the challenges of navigating mental health conditions within conservative communities while reestablishing connections within complicated family dynamics.

#7 BoJack Horseman (Netflix)

It might sound absurd, but this animated series for adults about a humanoid horse—who is also a former sitcom star—has a wide appeal and has been praised for its genre-bending habits and its handling of complex topics. BoJack Horseman does not address bipolar specifically, but it speaks to common difficulties and manages to humanize mental health challenges like substance use disorder, childhood trauma, depression, and medication-related weight gain with its array of human and nonhuman characters.


Originally posted February 14, 2022

About the author
Jade Zora Scibilia is the in-house editor of bp Magazine and esperanza. She was formerly the managing editor at Prometheus Books and the senior editor of Seventh Street Books and Pyr. She is also the author of two nonfiction children’s books.

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