This show has a pattern: casually mention it-->allude to it-->(sometimes joke about it)=====>address it directly and seriously and deal with it.
Examples: drug use, alcohol abuse, freaking lycanthropy, the list is fairly long and got longer recently when I started rewatching earlier seasons and started noticing how often it happens. Not just that: they do it with everything, it's like an extended version of Chekov's Gun, but the initial introduction is so casual its nearly background. Also known as foreshadowing, but done so well we have no fucking clue we're being foreshadowed at all, which honestly, well played, writers.
Quentin's presumed straightness was only partially debunked in the Great Threesome Debacle of Hotness (GTDH); a lot of arguments can and should be made on how that went down, because banging Margo definitely didn't make Eliot straight, so fucking Eliot wouldn't make Quentin bi or gay (and do I love that the show didn't even bother to make a big deal out of this or try to clumsily define anyone by it?).
Flirting between Eliot and Quentin? Sure, and definitely welcome, playful, and mutual. Quentin was in love with Alice; other considerations simply weren't relevant. More importantly, however, Quentin and Eliot's friendship recovered from the GTDH entirely, deepened, and we see that through the end of season one, through season two, and well into season three when the world stopped for Life in a Day where like two thirds of tumblr became incoherent because we had not only canonical life partners Quentin/Eliot in a canonical AU but they remembered it.
Then of course the show backed off as everyone pretty much expected and continued and then season four and Escape from the Happy Place in which what the fuck did they just you're kidding me. I watched it Thursday night before Escapade in my hotel room trying to avoid screaming into a pillow or running out to teh atrium screaming for everyone to WAKE UP I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THIS. And so on.
It shocked me because I forgot the rule: casual mention is how it starts.
So I'm rewatching and while jumping around, I went to Be the Penny, Season Three Ep 4, where we got the iconic line: "I find a heterosexual white male hero very relatable", which...is just before Life in a Day. Mention/Joke-->Debunked As Fuck. Heh. Okay, then, what utterly hilarious foreshadowing. Then came 3.6, "Do You Like Teeth" aka Depression in a Boat.
You know, Quentin's depression, an ongoing thing that you don't get over, you deal with per the show, an actual goddamn plot point and theme. A depression monster. It mocks and annoys and gets on his nerves, but no that's not the interesting part.
The part before that:
Quentin to Benedict: "Being on a mission is a hell of an anti-depressant."
I missed that. It was right there. Just sitting there, a casual reference to Quentin in fact feeling depressed. I didn't think about it too hard and I don't know why I missed that, because actually, I know better. Quentin lives with depression as part of his baseline, so when he uses that word, it won't be layman usage* in referral to transient mood; specifically, mention of anti-depressants--which he has taken (and is still taking????? IDK)--means whatever he's feeling isn't in the baseline range. He wouldn't say that if he was feeling vaguely sad**; he would generally use it because he feels he may be cycling into depression, and while yes, it can happen randomly, depressive cycles generally have one or more triggers to help them out.
Feeling sad because Eliot wasn't on the boat? Well, maybe, I guess?
How about maybe feeling that Eliot doesn't want to be on a boat with him after, say rejecting his offer of a relationship (after a fifty fucking year marriage? YES THAT WOULD FUCKING DO IT.
This is one of the reasons when I watched this ep again I paid attention to what it was saying and more importantly, what Quentin said (bring it on) and how surprisingly well he dealt with that bullshit. This observation is informed specifically by my depression, though super simplified and kind of mathy. YMMV of course: everyone with depression experiences it differently and describes it differently. That's what makes it so much fun.
During a depressive cycle, in general, there's an individual component that for lack of anything better is the +/- scale. Baseline depression dealt with daily is 0. Better general mood is +x/lesser general mood is -x. When I cycle into depression, my -x days outnumber my 0 and +x days and and the -x days get into serious negative numbers, and petty shit--part of my baseline--stops bothering me too much, truthfully because all my inner attention is on some more fundamental problems. Hair, alzheimers, bad feedback? Petty, yes, and all can contribute to a depression cycle(a lot of pebbles or a boulder, they can weigh the same), but when you're already in one, that changes what can actually hurt you.
Don't get me wrong, they'll get to me, but pretty much at the level of a hangnail; most of my brainpower is obsessing over bigger shit and there just isn't room unless that petty shit is related closely to the bigger shit.
When one of my oldest and closest friends and I stopped talking--basically at this point it's a breakup--any petty shit that touched 'unable to have and keep friends because something is wrong with you' were like individual unhealed wounds, but everything else, while it might hurt (my adulting, my work life, my fic), simply didn't stick because that one had all my attention.
(Escapade: proved to myself I could make and keep friends! Also aerialiste because even my depression couldn't make up a good reason why she'd nominate me for the Escapade scholarship and want to spend six days in my company in a hotel room if it wasn't 'my company isn't bad and I'm likable dammit'.)
So returning to non-me subject: Quentin dealt with the petty because while it might hurt, sure, and enough of it can cycle you in, but he was already there. Why didn't the Depression Monster mention the Eliot thing? Easy: it didn't need to. That was what Quentin was already depressed about. Using Julia and Alice? Easy: the other two people he is/was in love with, two people he failed, and obviously proving the reason Eliot didn't want him; he wasn't good enough and only hurt people.
Casual mention (3.6)--->?????---->Address it (4.5)
Aside: I want to say again how much I like how this show addresses mental illness by using a variation: the casual reference --> more references --> address issue --> keep addressing ongoing issue. Especially with 3.6, where Quentin tells Depression Monster he's been dealing with this shit all his life and bring it on.
This sounds incredibly dramatic and cliched, but I have to admit that watching a show that casually and not so casually addresses and deals with mental illness individually and people getting through it under unarguably worse circumstances than my own has done a lot to help me deal with my own depression, OCD, and ADHD. Not in a 'what do I have to complain about at least my ex wasn't a sociopathic niffin and my once and future husband is possessed by a baby god' way because that's bullshit. Fairytales tell us that dragons can be killed; The Magicians shows me that though my dragon won't die, no matter how many times it returns, I can fight it and defeat it, every goddamn time. Bring. It. On.
* usage of the word 'depression' is open to everyone, limited to no one. You can be a person who is depressed without having clinical depression. That word can be equally used as a formal mental health diagnosis and a reference to a transient mood or feeling. Anyone can use it.
** 'depression' can be used as a synonym of 'sad' and also can be used casually to refer to any transient negative mood. "I am depressed by the season finale of 'Spore People From Mars'."? Legit use.
This has been your rambling not-even-meta.
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