What Are “Healing Dramas” and Why Do We Need Them?

Odessa Denby
5 min readJul 26, 2021

The media we consume can have a big impact on our mental health, so let’s choose healing.

Photo by Krzysztof Hepner on Unsplash

TV is a companion for many people. Especially throughout the pandemic, our favorite streaming services have started to fill a vital social role in our lives. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that perhaps we should consider carefully what we choose.

It’s no secret that the media we consume can affect our mood and encourage different ways of looking at the world. Studies even have suggested that entertainment can have a positive effect on our mental health.

The concept of a “healing” drama or series is one that probably won’t be familiar to most English-speaking viewers, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist in English. More often, this term is applied to shows from countries like Korea and Japan. While not a specific genre, series that fall under the heading of “healing” are typically quiet, slice-of-life-style dramas that avoid high stakes and crazy plot twists. Often, we follow a protagonist who is healing from some past pain or trauma and looking for ways to move forward in their lives and develop their own goals and relationships.

Boring. This word can be thrown around in reference to these series because many of us have been conditioned to expect over-the-top action and complex plots in the shows we watch. I realized how much this was true for myself when I was watching All Creatures Great and Small (more on that in a bit) and a character got a minor hand injury. I kept waiting for this to become a major plot where he gets a life-threatening infection from this. But that wasn’t the case. Every tiny detail isn’t a clever setup for a major crisis — it’s just life.

And honestly, being on edge like that, expecting constant chaos is a bit psychologically stressful. The reason why many people return to favorite series during times of anxiety is that there’s no stress: you know how it’s going to turn out, so you don’t have to worry about your favorite character getting unexpectedly killed off or an unnecessarily brutal scene suddenly showing up and getting seared in your memory.

Healing dramas have this same sort of comfort factor. They make an agreement, of sorts, with the audience. There may be…

Odessa Denby

Professional writer and editor, former expat. Conscientious lifestyle and relationships, mental health, and the arts. Instagram: des_the_crafty_fox