The Society: Harry’s depression is handled incredibly well


The Society has a strong take on what it means to suffer from depression.

Throughout the first season, Harry (Alex Fitzalan) seems to struggle the most with adapting to the new situation. Without any medical professionals around, it’s impossible to officially diagnose him as depressed. However, viewers can see some of the major signs that hint about his emotional well-being throughout every episode of The Society. The series has done a decent job of addressing many real-life issues, such as gun control, the legal system, and how dangerous one’s rhetoric can be. Yet, Harry’s character arc stands out as one of the most realistic portrayals of someone who is depressed.

Warning: Major spoilers for The Society below! 

Before the kids are transported to this new version of their town, the series feeds us some information about what Harry’s life used to be like. He was the most popular kid in town who was constantly partying without a care in the world. However, we know in the high school elections, he lost out to Cassandra for president. Right off the bat, this tells us that most of his “friends” aren’t the ones who truly have his back.

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Also, six months prior, it’s revealed that his father died and it had a profound impact on him. Kelly calls him out early on about being terrified of ending up alone. It explains why he’s prone to partying constantly: the popularity means his friends will always be close by. In The Society, he’s grieving the loss of his father, and now his sister as well as his mother. His entire family is ripped away, which is one of his greatest fears, and then the only person he has left (Kelly) breaks up with him.

This explains why Harry might be depressed in the first place, but the series also shows us as the symptoms begin to take over his life. In New Ham, it’s minor things that most people overlook because it just seems like typical Harry. His desperate attempts to keep the party going even when there’s a blackout. In fact, he spends so much time fighting Cassandra on sharing houses but he quickly invites all of the party attendees to stay over in the storm.

Then there’s his fixation on playing “Fugitive” while everyone else is in crisis mode. He’s desperate to hold on to anything, which means centering his entire day around this one activity. However, after that event is finished and everyone moves on, there’s not much left for him to get excited about.

After Kelly dumps him and seems to reject his company, he immediately reaches out to Allie. On paper, this just seems like a convenient set-up since Allie is getting over Will and happens to be the younger sister of his nemesis. However, they have sex once and Harry seems smitten just at the idea of having someone who will be there for him. Yet, the two end before they can even begin, with Allie telling Harry it’s easier in the long run if they don’t continue. It’s shattering to Harry, who reached out with the hope of a dance at prom.

That rejection leads him into the waiting arms of Campbell, who offers him some drugs to numb the pain. With that, Harry begins a descent into drug addiction, no longer able to cope with the day-to-day things without something extra. For Campbell, this becomes an easy way to manipulate him and honestly, Harry is so desperate that he allows himself to be used that way.

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As things begin to escalate, it doesn’t seem like the other characters know how to handle someone who has fallen into a deep depression. That’s not their fault, these are teenagers not trained professionals. Harry sleeps all day and he’s unable to find the motivation to even get out of bed. He has people living in his house and taking his family’s things but he can’t do anything about it. Allie does come to try and snap him out of it but it comes across as a little unsympathetic.

When she tells him that “he can’t do this”, it shows just how out of touch she is with his depression. Harry can’t just stop feeling depressed, and as someone who used to be on top, he’s undoubtedly desperate to find a way to stop feeling so broken.

By the end of season one, some fans took issue withThe Society making it seem like Harry’s depression was cured by running for office. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. For one thing, depression can come in bouts so this momentary high could just be temporary. For another, running for office gives Harry something to look forward to again. It’s not permanent, but it’s a slight reprieve which forces him out of the bed.

While he’s easily one of the more relatable characters who can’t cope with their new situation, that doesn’t make Harry a good person. He’s made plenty of mistakes, such as his part in Cassandra’s death or Allie’s frame-job, but his depression helps us understand how his mind works. Harry has definitely been an antagonist for most of the season, but as viewers, he’s one of the few people who feels more realistic.

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Hopefully, season 2 has Harry go down a path of redemption where he can own up to his mistakes and begin to work towards helping his own mental/emotional health. As New Ham begins to become a more structured society, perhaps one of the kids will prioritize mental health issues. Helena mentions it in episode 6, the kids need to do better than their parents. Now that everyone needs to shed their teenage self to become adults, there will undoubtedly be more people who will need help coping.

What did you think of Harry on The Society? Be sure to tell us in the comment section below!