The 10 Best Movies and TV Shows About OCD Behaviors
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Nowadays, it is common for people to use “TOC” as an adjective to describe neat and orderly tendencies. However, this mental health disorder goes far beyond good handwriting and a tidy bedroom.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a demanding condition that falls under anxiety disorders. It’s more than a tendency or a personality, it’s an all-consuming disease with no escape.
Here are some of the best movies and TV shows that portray the realities of OCD and how it can affect everyday life, while also highlighting that people aren’t just their illnesses.
Bob (Bill Murray) has a whole list of fears that keep him from leaving his house: agoraphobia, hypochondriasis, germaphobia, etc.
All of this places Bob in a constant state of panic, requiring constant reassurance from his therapist(s) who eventually tire of him.
Other than his doctor and his ex-wife, most people love Bob for his pleasant nature, but the fact that everyone loves Bob makes Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) hate him even more.
On top of all that, Bob has OCD. He spends hours pacing the room before finally leaving, using a handkerchief to turn doorknobs. Whether What about Bob was not a light comedy, we would be seriously concerned.
9. Monk (2002–2009)
TV sleuths are often neurodivergent eccentrics – think Sherlock Holmes in the BBC sherlock or Rustin Cole in HBO real detective. Their lack of social skills is often what leaves more room in their brains for logical thinking and crime solving.
And just as Scotland Yard calls in Sherlock when they’re in a sticky situation, the San Francisco Police Department reaches out to Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub) when they’re hit with a criminal curveball.
After many years confined to the house due to his OCD, Monk steps out to become a private investigator even though he is still bothered by his list of phobias: milk, heights, lightning, mushrooms, elevators, crowds. , etc.
Leaving Monk alone in a room for 10 minutes is frustrating enough to watch; we can’t imagine what it must be like to actually live with OCD.
Chris Traeger is never explicitly diagnosed with OCD in Parks and recreationbut he’s definitely one of the most anxious and health-obsessed characters we’ve seen on TV.
Originally conceived as a guest appearance, Chris’ contagious (and sometimes annoying) optimism and high-energy personality left fans wanting more. So Greg Daniels and Michael Schur kept it.
Despite the stash of vitamins on his desk and his determination to make his depression go away, Chris’ health ironically suffers from his frenetic obsessive-compulsive cravings.
Filmed in a mockumentary style, Chris once told the audience that his anxiety kept him awake for 50 hours straight. That’s not good for anyone, let alone someone planning to be the first person to live to be 150!
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Another TOC police detective here, this time in London. If you’re thinking Jack the Ripper, you’re a bit off the mark – this BBC drama takes place later in the timeline.
Set in modern times, Whitechapel focuses on copycat crimes, including those of Jack the Ripper and the Kray twins.
Detective Inspector Joseph Chandler (Rupert Penry-Jones) is exceptionally clean for a man in such a grim career. Along with his tough, no-nonsense partner Ray (Phil Davis), they face horrific cases of repeating history.
Chandler’s disorder is a little more subtle than Monk’s OCD in Monkbut when the stress level begins to escalate, it becomes unmanageable and Chandler turns to alcohol to numb everything.
Related: The Best Modern Detective TV Shows
Based on Eric Garcia’s 2002 novel, Matches Men follows a pair of con artists in Los Angeles, with Roy (Nicolas Cage) as the leader and mastermind of the operation, despite lacking any nuance or emotional stability.
Roy has both OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome, which his protege (Sam Rockwell) suggests he seek help for after an intense panic attack. There, he discovers his estranged teenage daughter who gives him a taste for life.
Sounds pretty heavy, but Matches Men is actually an airy but absorbing watch, with director Ridley Scott showing us how an OCD diagnosis doesn’t mean the end of everything.
Some readers of the original book condemned Scott for turning his cynicism into sentimentality, but we think it fits perfectly with Roy’s character, charming his victims.
As good as it gets is one of the few films to win Academy Awards for Best Lead Actor and Best Lead Actress, the former going to Jack Nicholson for his portrayal of a New York novelist with OCD.
Although his job is to write about people, he’s not the best at dealing with them. In fact, only one waitress will serve it in the only café her OCD will allow her to visit: Carol (Helen Hunt).
A common symptom of obsessive-compulsive disorder is the need to maintain a routine. Many people with OCD find change difficult to manage, no matter how small.
Despite his tough exterior, Jack Nicholson’s Melvin suffers that way. He becomes attached to the neighbor’s dog whom he reluctantly cares for, and he collapses when Carol quits her job.
However, director James L. Brooks forces his bigoted protagonist to embrace the new and live with his disorder, ungoverned by it.
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Raymond Babbitt (Dustin Hoffman) suffers from autism and savant syndrome and is being treated in a mental institution, at least until his selfish older brother (Tom Cruise) uproots him for his own benefit.
Ray often has breakdowns caused by the smallest of things, like being shot in the arm or missing his favorite TV show. Ray also has OCD, which is never explicitly stated, but that’s mostly because Ray’s autism seems to overshadow everything else.
Ray is cinema’s best-known autistic character, but experts have also pointed to his typical OCD behaviors, like having to eat cheese balls with a toothpick.
He also has to rearrange the furniture in the hotel to match his home institution every time, showing how real his compulsion for sameness and routine is.
But Barry Levinson’s drama isn’t about teaching Ray to embrace change; it’s more about teaching his brother to accept it.
Related: The Best Autism Movies & Autistic Characters
Neil Simon turned his 1965 play into a film script, animated by director Gene Saks in 1968. The odd couple was a commercial success that led to a sitcom (1970), a sequel (1998) and a remake (2015), each permanently referenced in pop culture.
Played by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, the strange couple of Felix and Oscar share one thing in common: they are divorced. After moving in together, they quickly find that their lifestyles collide.
This isn’t just a case of Felix being neat and Oscar being messy; Felix actually has OCD and Oscar is a complete slob.
OCD is basically an anxiety disorder. Living with Oscar means that Felix has a lot of anxiety, and he expresses that anxiety in many ways, not just tidying up (which he admittedly does a lot).
Although Felix is never formally diagnosed in the movie or TV show, experts have analyzed and suggested that Felix does indeed suffer from OCD, as evidenced by his helplessness in the face of compulsive cleaning.
2. Pure (2019)
Many viewers congratulated PureThe realistic and sensitive portrayal of OCD, which comes from the fact that its creator, Rose Cartwright, wrote everything from personal experience.
Originally a book titled PureChannel 4 adapted Cartwright’s memoir into a limited TV series in 2019, which was later made available on HBO Max (until the merger began to wipe out the library).
Cartwright’s writing of her story and subsequent permission to adapt was brave to say the least, as it deals with a very specific type of OCD that is easily misunderstood.
Basically, Pure is about a woman (played by Charly Clive) who has intrusive thoughts about sex. No matter how inappropriate and demeaning those thoughts are, they just won’t stop.
Pure gives space to voices we didn’t even know needed to be heard, shattering stereotypes around mental health. Pure fans who also suffer from OCD and intrusive thoughts have found relatability in this show like no other.
If you only read Howard Hughes’ biography on Wikipedia, you wouldn’t think he suffered from crippling mental health issues. The immensely successful billionaire ticked every conceivable box: filmmaker, aviator, businessman, philanthropist, record holder, and more.
Although his obsessive-compulsive disorder was initially manageable when he embarked on these ventures, the disease eventually got the better of him, to the point that he locked himself in a dark room for four straight months.
Martin Scorsese tells the incredible story of Hughes in his epic period drama the aviator. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as the troubled man, rubbing his bloody hands, peeing in bottles and repeating the same words over and over.
When it comes to Hollywood biopics, the aviator is pretty accurate, which only makes his life-destroying compulsions all the sadder.