Aisling Bea as Aine in This Way Up.

This Way Up is a comedy-drama series available to stream on Channel 4 catch up or Hulu. The storyline focuses on the struggles of Aine (Aisling Bea) after a “teeny tiny breakdown”, which places her in a rehab facility.

Aine is a TEFL teacher, originally from Ireland, living in London. We learn few details about Aine’s breakdown, instead accompanying her as she adjusts to daily life. We ride the roller-coaster of recovery with her, elated when she feels self esteem and security, but heartbroken when she becomes reclusive in her depressive lows.

As the series progresses, we understand that the themes of depression and loneliness are not exclusively felt by Aine. Each of the core characters can relate to the stress of navigating daily life, issues of dependency and feelings of isolation.

Moreover, the comedic script of This Way Up tricks you into a false sense of security before striking you with painful, awkward or shocking scenes. The series covers subjects such as alcoholism, difficult family relationships, societal pressures and workplace sexism.

1 in 4 girls between 17 and 19 in the UK has a mental illness, most commonly anxiety and depression. It is beneficial for girls to see mental health issues normalised on TV, in films and across social media. However, mental health stigma still exists. This Way Up presents mental illness in an honest and humorous way. This representation is accessible to young adults and could help them to identify their emotions and feel comfortable sharing them. Aine is not diminished by her mental health issues, instead possessing an intelligent, if complex, personality with a clever sense of humour and a passionate teaching style.

Sisterhood is also a core theme of the show. The relationship between Aine and her sister Shona (Sharon Horgan) is unconditional and unfiltered. It is a valuable relationship, that proves the importance of strong female support.

I believe This Way Up should be watched by all young adult women. The story is realistic, hopeful, painful and witty. It’s unedited and raw in a way that some girls may be unfamiliar with in the age of social media perfection, but is universal to us all.

The series is produced by Merman. Merman is a production company founded by Clelia Mountford and Sharon Horgan. The company also produced comedy-drama Catastrophe, written by Sharon Horgan and stand-up comedian Rob Delaney. Catastrophe contains difficult scenes of adultery and alcoholism, which punch through the witty and relatable script.

-Jessica Yarnall
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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