Netflix Shines a Light on Sensitive Topics


Laura Ridoux

Netflix has added TV shows to its selection that tackle sensitive topics, engaging the audience in debates over whether the streaming platform’s motives are justified.

When dealing with minors, certain subjects, viewed as inappropriate to discuss in public, tend to be ignored or brushed away instead of being addressed. This applies to the education system, where sensitive topics regarding gender identity, racial discrimination and sexual health are often avoided partly due to laws banning that type of content. In addition, within one’s personal life, parents or guardians tend to steer clear of these topics which can lead to awkward conversations, making both parties uncomfortable.

Both intentionally and unintentionally bridging this gap, social media networks and streaming platforms have begun to address these delicate issues, whether it is through audio or visual content. Among them, Netflix, the number one streaming service, has used its platform to bring awareness through various television shows, a necessary step to reduce the social stigma behind the discussion of touchy topics.

Considered by many as taboo, subjects ranging from mental health struggles like depression to racial discrimination are present in the current generation, primarily among teenagers. In the last few years, Netflix has released TV shows that place an emphasis on these topics, by alluding to provocative themes through character actions and providing graphic cinematography, capturing society’s attention. Demonstrating strong visual aspects clearly demonstrates the urgency of taking action against the social stigma presented.

I think that Netflix using its platform to shine a light on sensitive topics is amazing because it allows people to see that they’re not so alone and other people, although fictionally portrayed, go through similar issues. Netflix putting the helplines at the end of the episodes that cover sensitive topics is also something I think is good because it allows for people who might not know there are such helplines to call and learn about them, potentially using them if need be,

— junior Agatha Askari

At the beginning of 2023, Netflix released the second season of the TV show “Ginny and Georgia”, after its debut about two years prior. Topics such as depression, physical harassment and self-harm were brought to the attention of the public eye. The show brought awareness and sparked discussion, an indicator that mental health seemed to be well-addressed throughout the series.

It is crucial to be able to openly discuss these topics to make victims feel heard and understood. A lack of education, occurring in both personal and professional life, has led to misinformation along with the romanticization of suffering, discrediting its seriousness.

In a society with constant judgment, people suffering from mental illness often do not get the help they need due to fear or intimidation. With many viewers watching TV shows, Netflix has used its platform as a way to encourage aiding others in times of need, a necessary step that will allow the audience to come in contact with other viewpoints and become more open and willing to help others that are showing signs of struggles. For example, a parent dismissing their child who claims to being bullied at school may decide to help after learning the signs.

“Ginny and Georgia is a good example of how to talk about issues such as mental health and how it can also be tricky talking about these sensitive topics since in the first season, her self harming was very overshadowed but in season two, you can see her reach out to an adult and start therapy. As a teenager, I perceived these issues in the show as an eye-opener, making me realize how important and universal mental health is,” junior Jasmine Rizo said.

When it comes to racial inclusivity, the video-streaming platform has included the “Black Lives Matter”  movement in its protesting form, depicting a current issue driving political tensions. In “All American”, the BLM movement is clearly portrayed through the characters and events in the show, like gang violence and racial profiled shootings. Netflix has been shown to have an effect on the opinion of viewers, possibly changing their minds about the shows they watch, proving its efficiency in bringing awareness to injustices faced by the black community.

By spotlighting this movement, Netflix is able to capture attention on a relevant topic and allow its audience to visually see what is happening, a critical part of the campaign to educate people so they can take action. With over 200 million subscribers, this platform is the perfect way to reach out to a wide range of people and sparkle debates that have often been long overdue.

What do you think about Netflix shining a light on sensitive topics through TV shows?


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“Especially for younger viewers, Netflix or shows alike tend to stigmatize mental health illnesses and often portray them with intensified versions of them, or just misrepresent the population that actually struggles with it. I think if they truly wanted to do shows that represent these illnesses so that the audience can relate to them or simply want to demonstrate an idea bout these topics, I think it’s safer to use an actor who genuinely has the illness and is diagnosed, or is well trained by a professional to be able to portray it on television without offending anyone or causing any deception,” junior Amalia Garrido said.

Although faced with criticisms, Netflix has made the right choice in addressing what has been kept in the dark. A TV show about suicide, “13 Reasons Why” is an eye-opener on how easy it is to hide an illness because of the absence of attention. The show gained fame from its themes that sparked the controversial discussion of sensitive topics, proving its efficiency in bringing change.

By shining a light on these topics, reflection is brought upon society that can bring forth change. Older generations tend to be less open and understanding of these modern issues and Netflix is providing them with a new perspective that will hopefully make them more inclusive. The incorporation of sensitive topics in the media should be continued as it is not only working to reduce stigma but has helped make people feel a little less alone.