Channel 4 is always a reliable source for brings cutting edge, risqué, close-to-the-bone TV shows. They aren't afraid to tackle some uncomfortable topics, ranging from the political to the economical to the physical. Their newest show, Pure, follows the story of Marnie, a woman experiencing a form of OCD called Pure O. In the show, Marnie leaves her family home in Edinburgh, moves to London, and takes up a job at a magazine. But is Pure's Ethel magazine a real magazine?
Well, in short, no. The magazine in question is not an actual publication. However, the author of the memoir upon which the show is based, Rose Cartwright, has worked as a journalist for several years. So no doubt Cartwright used her personal experiences to paint a picture of what it's like to be an intern in a magazine. Or, TBH, an intern in any sort of media profession. I'll put my hands up and say been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. I wouldn't personally recommend it, but also, it's, like, an unpleasant and necessary cog in the wheel that is career progression. And this show hits the nail on the head.
But Cartwright's personal experiences as an intern aren't all that's on display in this real AF dramedy. Nope. The author also serves up some real talk about mental health — in particular, her experience dealing with Pure O (also known as "Purely Obsessional").
In an article Cartwright wrote for the Guardian in 2013, she described Pure O as being characterised by "repetitive thoughts, doubts and mental images about things such as sex, blasphemy and murder." Cartwright's Pure O manifested itself mainly in sexual thoughts, and these experiences formed the basis of her memoir, which is also called Pure.
Sharing her story with a wider audience has been an incredibly positive experience for Cartwright, who has become something of a spokesperson for mental health sufferers in the UK and globally. Speaking to the Radio Times, Cartwright said:
"Just being involved in a project like this has become part of my healing process. I’ve had a lot of therapy and this is definitely the best therapy I’ve had."
Using her positive experience to pay it forward, Cartwright has also been promoting the global mental health movement Made Of Millions, which she co-founded. It is described as "a grassroots mental health platform for sufferers, by sufferers," on Cartwright's website.
When asked what shows such as Pure can add to the conversation about mental health, screenwriter Kirstie Swain told Channel 4:
"I think it reminds people they’re not alone. Mental health is a very private experience and making a show about it makes it public. This is a relationship drama about someone who struggles to have relationships because she spends so much time in her own head. If she spent more time in the world with other people she’d realise that everyone else was struggling too — maybe not to the same degree, but they’re struggling all the same. She’s not as alone as she thinks. This show is ultimately about finding your people and if one person watches it and feels less alone then I’ll be happy."