Hulu's Focus on Men's Mental Health in "This Fool

2023-08-23 00:39:48 - Dr. Sam Nine Dr. Sam Nine is a renowned urologist with over 20 years of experience in the field. Recognizing the need for more resources dedicated to men's sexual health, he created With his commitment to providing accurate information and fostering open discussions, he has become a pioneering figure in promoting healthier, stigma-free attitudes towards men's health.

By now you’ve certainly heard of Hulu’s This Fool. The series has garnered praise from notable publications such as The New York Times, Time, The Washington Post, and many others for its sharp humor and cleverness, and while there are many things that make this show exceptional, its portrayal of men dealing with mental health issues makes it one of the most significant shows for Latinx culture. [Warning: Spoilers ahead]

This Fool follows the story of Julio Lopez (played by standup comedian Chris Estrada), a case manager at the gang rehabilitation nonprofit, Hugs Not Thugs. When we first meet our neurotic anti-hero, he is openly in a codependent relationship, frequently makes dark jokes about self-harm or suicide, and spends the course of season one insisting that he doesn’t need therapy. He is defensive, resistant, and resentful anytime the topic is brought up.

His emotions are unsurprising, aligning with Latino expectations of manhood. No one wants to be met with ridicule, called “weak,” “lloron,” or worse yet “loco,” when being open about their own mental health concerns. Think about the times you’ve heard people say “suck it up and be a man” (or some variation of that phrase) – the implication being that men shouldn’t have feelings. It’s dangerous and unfair to expect men to suppress their emotions and conceal their vulnerabilities. Certainly, the consequences can be harmful.

According to alarming 2019 statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, suicide was the second leading cause of death for Latinxs, ages 15 to 34. Additionally, Latinxs are 50% less likely to have received mental health treatment compared to their white counterparts. While some of these statistics can be attributed to the stigma attached to mental health issues in our communities, we can’t ignore the fact that Latinxs also have access issues, with approximately 21% of Latinxs being uninsured in 2022.

Season 2 of This Fool tackles these concerns head-on. By the time we reach the final two episodes of the season, we witness Julio acknowledge the reality that he is feeling down and eventually take the necessary measures to seek professional assistance, a task portrayed as no simple accomplishment. Julio's absence of medical coverage leads him to make countless phone calls in order to find a therapist, and even when he finally discovers one who agrees to work with him on a flexible payment basis, the soonest available appointment is scheduled six months from now. Julio's one step forward, two steps back experience reflects the actuality faced by many individuals who are actively trying to attend therapy sessions, and as a viewer (and someone who has personally felt overwhelmed by the process of finding a therapist), I value the thoughtfulness that was put into depicting this journey.

Just like any other significant societal or cultural shift, it will take time to change perspectives, but it is quite remarkable that the predominantly male and Latino team behind This Fool is addressing this issue. The final scene of season 2 features Julio attending a therapy appointment that unexpectedly became available earlier than anticipated, paving the way for his mental well-being to play a pivotal role in the upcoming season. And that is a promising development for both his character and our community.

Seasons one and two of This Fool can be streamed on Hulu now. If you or someone you know requires assistance, please call the suicide prevention hotline.

This Fool -- “The Rooster” - Episode 201 -- Your people and my people. Julio (Chris Estrada) and Luis (Frankie Quinones), shown. (Photo by: Gilles Mingasson/Hulu)

Chris Estrada Featured Hulu Masculinity mental health This Fool TV

Showing page 1 of 6