Like many classic sitcoms before it, “The Carmichael Show” navigates family values and relationships with a comedic take, but this week the show took on a more serious issue — mental health.
On Sunday’s episode, Cynthia Carmichael, the matriarch of the family who is played by actress Loretta Levine, reveals she’s been battling “the blues,” alluding to her struggle with a bout of depression. In the episode, Cynthia initally refuses to seek therapy, an act that transcends fiction to reflect the stigma of mental health issues in the black community and beyond.
“A lot of times in the black families … you’re taught from the time you’re a child what goes on in this house, stays in this house,” Levine told The Huffington Post in a special video that highlights how the show tackles the mental health stigma in communities of color.
“You don’t tell anybody’s business or our business outside of this house,” she added.
Data shows that only about 25 percent of African Americans seek mental health care, compared to 40 percent of whites — and the reluctance to openly discuss the issue oftentimes causes people to suffer in silence.
The show’s creator Jerrod Carmichael, who also stars in the NBC sitcom, said he wanted the episode to be a frank, authentic portrayal of the issue and spur conversations as well.
“I really hope that with any episode we do with this show that the conversations we have in this living room or whatever set we’re on extends into your own living room,” he said. “If you talk about it for just 30 seconds after we’re off the air, then hopefully it could lead to something productive in your own life.”
Hear more about the episode in the video above.