It's the illness, not the person: Netflix’s ‘Everything Now’ may be the long-awaited portrayal of eating disorders we need

by Jade Psihogios

A young person's social suicide is telling people they relate to the problematic characters of shows. And not simply the antagonists, but the morally wrong, unlikeable, and mentally ugly characters. 

In 2023, you may hear people say they relate to Cassie Howard from Euphoria and, satirical or not, Mia Goth in Pearl or X.  

I have a long history of feeling this way about complex female characters. Lee Jiah from My Mister and Bae Gyuri from Extracurricular are two of many characters I've felt emotionally drawn towards. These characters engage in morally wrong behaviours, but their emotional states aid audiences in sympathising and understanding their actions.  

While it may not be the healthiest coping mechanism, I do find companionship through understanding and relating by fictional characters. However, not all struggles are depicted on television carefully and accurately. The more complex ones, like mental illnesses, can be prone to stereotyping or plain inaccuracy.  

As someone who constantly consumes new media and stories like a full-time job, it was fate for me to come across the new British coming-of-age series Everything Now on Netflix.  

Everything Now follows 16-year-old Mia Polanco, resuming school after spending seven months as an in-patient for eating disorder recovery.  

Photo via Netflix

When she finds out that her friends have started to engage in ‘adult’ behaviours like drinking, clubbing and sex, she feels obligated to catch up. Mia creates a ‘shopping list’ of teenage activities to complete by the end of her school year. 

At first, I was hesitant to consume another story where an eating disorder, this time anorexia, was a primary theme of the show. However I was pleasantly surprised at the nuanced portrayal of how illnesses can affect the person and the important people in their life.  

One idea the show presents is that Mia’s anorexia is not a reflection of her as a person. The anger spouts, self-harm after experiencing a stressful event, and the way she feels and sees her body are all results of the illness. 

The effects of her eating disorder do not only affect her. A significant plot point is her deteriorating relationship with her family and friends and the effort to rebuild that connection.   

One cannot blame all their poor decisions on their mental illness. Individuals still have control over their actions and how they treat others around them. This makes Mia a highly nuanced character, considering her relationship with herself, her body and the people she cares about. 

Eating disorders have been stereotypical traits of antagonists in media, for example, Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl or Regina Georgia in Mean Girls. If you look into Korean dramas, Han Sooah from My ID is Gangnam Beauty and Song Shi-ho from Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bokjoo are universally hated characters, displaying eating disorder behaviour.  

Stories with the potential to address the nuances of eating disorders and their victims fall flat with problematic and inaccurate storylines. Take Insatiable’s highly fatphobic storyline and To The Bone’s stereotypical depiction of anorexia, for example.  

The stigmatisation of eating disorders significantly affects whether people open up about their experiences and seek support. There will be a constant fear of rejection if young people are exposed to bullies or villains with eating disorders.  

Everything Now helps redefine eating disorders not as a characteristic of an unworthy person. The series tells you not to feel guilty for your illness. Mia is not necessarily the nicest, most perfect female lead on television, but she’s real. And her feelings and actions feel real.  


If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, support is available. You can find it here: 


The Butterfly Foundation: 1800 33 4673

Police & Ambulance: 000 

Lifeline: 13 11 14 

Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800 

Blitz Editor

Anandi Ganguly

A Definitive Ranking of the Beloved Papa Louie Games

Alexa ranks our the childhood cult classic, Papa's Pizzeria games. Where does your favourite lie in the ranks?

Read More

Harry Styles Love on Tour Review / 04.03.23

Lana dotes on her experience at Harry's Love on Tour in Sydney, at Qudos Bank Arena.

Read More

Why Do We Play Life Simulation Games Over Life?

Prudence dives deep into the temptation to play life simulator games over life.

Read More

Read More