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If being different is what keeps things interesting, why are so many TV shows and movies giving us characters who look, act, and feel the same?

The images we see on TV and in movies can seriously affect the way we feel about ourselves. Whether it’s a blockbuster showing harmful stereotypes or a new Netflix show that’s flat-out body-shaming (ahem, Insatiable), how different body shapes and sizes are shown is rarely positive or helpful.

Connecting appearance to your overall value feeds into how see ourselves and how we treat ourselves (and others).

It’s time to stand up and take your binge watching seriously. Be critical of what’s put in front of you, and make the choice to watch shows that make you feel good about being different, instead of making you strive to be something you’re not.

Here are some we can happily recommend:

1. This is us

A show about a quirky and lovable family who struggle with their own identity across generations. Kate, one of the main characters, has a great story line that involves her weight, but doesn’t distract from her other life experiences (as so many “bigger” character’s story arcs so often do).

2. Please like me

One of those hilarious but also heartbreaking shows about a complicated group of 20-somethings trying to find their place in the world.

3. Breaker Upperers

This film is all about women being their best selves. No one is held back because of how they look. It’s also very funny.

4. My Mad Fat Diary

A super heartwarming series that explores mental health, body image, relationships and friendship. It also has a killer soundtrack.

5. Orange is the new black

This show is all about diversity. Looks, stories, age, abilities, gender, you name it, they’ve thought about it. It makes for incredible TV that keeps you guessing.

6. Nanette

This is the second Hannah Gadsby gif in this list and we are definitely not sorry. Nanette is a must watch for everyone. It gives you perspective, empathy, and helps you to understand what it’s like to not quite fit the mould that is expected of you.

7. Homecoming Queens

Two best friends with chronic illness find themselves back in their home town of Brisbane. Of course, their illness is only one part of their lives, and the show takes us on their dating, friendship, family, and house party adventures too.

homecoming queens

8. Glow

A show about an all female wrestling troupe in the 80s. It’s made by women and stars women and generally does a good job of showing that women are worth so much more than how they look.

9. Shameless

Poverty, sexuality, mental health, family, and substance abuse are just a few of the issues this show gets into in the first season. It’s a chaotic story about a big extended family and community in Chicago, and shows us all that there are many more important things to worry about than how you look.

10. The Office

Laugh and cry and cringe your way through every season of this show. It’s a golden classic about a paper distribution office and all the quirky characters that work there.

These shows all do a good job of showing people for what they really are - different and interesting.  So, next time you want to zone out and let your TV do the talking, challenge yourself to find the good stuff. Choose to watch things that help you to be open and accepting of yourself and others

What can I do now?