When you watch as many dramas as I do, it’s only natural to become emotionally invested in some of the characters. However, some episodes might make you wish you weren’t so invested. Some episodes are especially difficult to watch for a number of reasons. The episodes on this list aren’t tough to watch because they’re bad, on the contrary, they’re some of my favourite episodes of these respective shows. They’re tough to watch for me, because they take a particularly large emotional toll, or are very unsettling. Here are my picks (Oh also, spoiler alert) –
5) “Last Dance” (The L Word)- Season 3, Episode 11
Dana became my favourite character on The L Word, so it was incredibly sad to see her diagnosed and suffering from cancer during the show’s third year. However, despite how much Dana’s health worsened, I honestly didn’t think she’d die. But in episode 10, girlfriend Alice arrives with presents only to find that her love has already gone. It’s heart wrenching. I picked the following episode however, because we’re slap bang in the middle of the group’s grief for the duration of the episode. Things are made worse when Dana’s conservative parents refuse to acknowledge their significance, leading Alice to organise her own private memorial. It’s a very touching episode, but it’s emotionally draining.
4) “I Am Anne Frank, part 1” (American Horror Story)- Season 2, Episode 4
This is one of the picks that is tough to watch because it’s disturbing. The “Asylum” season of American Horror Story is filled with very unsettling assaults, murders and so called “treatments”, but one that was really etched in my mind was when Lana Winters, the main protagonist locked in the Asylum due to her homosexuality, underwent “aversion therapy”. This was the scariest season for me, simply because you can remove all the supernatural elements and this story would still be plenty horrifying. Actor Sarah Paulson points to this episode as the hardest thing she’s had to film and I can totally understand why. It’s deeply upsetting and disturbing in a way that’s stuck with me more than any other scene in the series.
3) “The Body” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)- Season 5, Episode 16
This episode is just horrendous. It’s beautifully acted and incredibly well done… but it’s horrendous. Buffy’s mother, Joyce, had a brain tumour removed earlier on in the season and as far as we knew, she was in the clear. However, out of nowhere, at the end of episode 15, Buffy arrives home to find her mother on the sofa… and every viewer’s heart stopped for a moment as they realised what was happening. “The Body” is agonisingly quiet. There isn’t any music in this episode, nothing is done to make things glamorous, it’s harsh and deafening in its silence. The cast put on amazing performances. But all that being said, this episode is very hard to watch. I need to be in a very particular frame of mind not to skip this one. It taps into a fear that I think most of us probably have and that doesn’t sit easy at all.
2) “Did You Hear What Happened to Charlotte King?” (Private Practice)- Season 4, Ep 7
When you make a spin off from something as huge as Grey’s Anatomy, it’s pretty much bound to get dwarfed and unfortunately Private Practice isn’t an exception. In my opinion, this show didn’t get half the praise and attention it deserved, but that certainly didn’t stop them putting their all into the storylines. This is another thing that came out of nowhere, but then I guess that’s life. My personal favourite character, Charlotte King, is savagely beaten up and raped in her office at the hospital and this episode opens on a horrifying but simple image of a bloody finger nail on the floor of the trashed, dark office room. This episode, in fact this storyline was brutal and honest. Actress KaDee Strickland and Shona Rhimes received a RAINN Hope Award and RAINN reported a 500% increase in service requests after the storyline aired. Check out the video link below to see more about the impact this episode had-
1) “A Hole in the World” (Angel)- Season 5, Episode 15
If ever you’ve seen someone you love die in bed, of an illness that takes away their faculties one after the other, you’ll know why this episode is my top pick. There are very few people I know who didn’t love Winfred “Fred” Burkle and find actress Amy Acker both talented and charming. So when this sweet, loving character was infected with a demonic virus and slowly (and I quote) “hollowed out” for a hell God to rise on Earth, it was incredibly painful to watch. And of course because Joss Whedon is such a masochist, Fred and Wesley had just gotten together and finally settled into a loving relationship. The scene that always stays with me is when Fred is crying for her toy rabbit and then is devastated to realise that she can no longer remember its name. Joss and Amy Acker are basically trying to kill us with this episode; that has to be it, because this is just way beyond sad.