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Review: ‘Pure’ the TV series tackling OCD in a refreshing way

Pure is a new Netflix series about a 24-year-old woman called Marnie who moves to London in the hopes of circumventing her troubles. Marnie leaves her family in Scotland after her obsessive sexual thoughts become too palpable. This makes for a funny yet sometimes intense layout as we see the lude sexual scenes that play out in her head. These scenes are framed by Marnie’s feelings of shame and disgust and her internal monologue gives a great depth of perspective with regards to how OCD can function. OCD is commonly thought of as the mental illness where you wash your hands too much and act out rituals. In reality, OCD is a complex mental illness that can take on many forms, sometimes intersecting with other diagnoses and illnesses. Marnie finds out that her OCD is obsessive and many in the community term it “Pure O” for this very reason.

“Pure O” is what the writer Rose Cartwright suffers with. The series is based on her memoir, a modern sort of coming of age tale if ‘coming of age’ tales are about 20 something-year-old’s who think that they’re bat shit crazy.

The actress and newcomer Charly Clive plays Marnie and she does the character a real justice. Marnie is messy and real and is just trying to figure out who she is. She isn’t always easy to empathise with. Throughout the series, she is constantly rude to her friend Shereen, who’s given her a free place to stay. However, the impetus of the programme is that we can always see what is driving Marnie and her sometimes outlandish behaviour.

This series hopefully represents the trajectory regarding TV’s portrayal of mental illnesses. The wonderful nature of TV is that it can offer perspective in a way that film cannot. This is because TV episodes allow more time for character development. By the end of the series, Marnie has changed, but it is important that we know that she's not cured.

Mental health struggles are a daily battle and we see this represented in the other characters who all face their own internal struggles as well.

We see character development in Charlie who has gone a whole year without watching porn and is now struggling again due to a lack of identity and purpose, which is something that he and Marnie both share. The development of Marnie’s interpersonal relationships forms the notion that mental health is something to be better dealt with through the development of relationships and a support network.

Though this story portrays one girl’s struggle with something that she can’t, at first, name: Marnie’s sense of self starts to build when she cultivates relationships and begins to understand that everyone isn’t as ‘normal’ as she thinks.