Mike Clarke

Panel 5F: Transcoding Television
Session 5 – July 3, 11:00 – 13:00

Drawing Lines between OK and Not OK: Animation as Transitional Phenomena in the Age of Streaming

In an age where we can carry our media with us in our pockets, stories and characters have become portable and immediately accessible. We can immerse ourselves in our favourite fictional realities at will, and often across a number of mediums: ‘bingeing’ streamed media content, ordering eBooks instantaneously, scrolling through fan forums, and more. The availability and immersivity of the new media landscape mean that we might need to consider the potential psychological significance of these texts in different ways. Historically, the Psychoanalytic approach within media studies has favoured a Freudian or Lacanian perspective. However, Bainbridge and Yates (2014) and Bainbridge (2019) espouse the notion of ‘media objects of the mind’: employing an Object Relations approach, informed by Winnicott, Klein, and Bion, amongst others and constellating media as a form of transitional space.

In this context, I consider the popular and critical success of animated comedies such as Rick and Morty (Adult Swim, 2013-) and BoJack Horseman (Netflix, 2014-2020), and consider their significance as potential transitional phenomena. I also present a psycho-cultural analysis specifically of their depictions of mental distress, and the shifting notion of what it means to be ‘OK’. In this way, I highlight the potential benefits of Psychoanalysis as a means of exploring and contextualising the psychological dimension of the narrative and viewing experience in the current mediascape.


A Dramatherapist and a PhD researcher, Mike Clarke has a background of working in mental health and across modalities. Having worked extensively across the South East of England and in India for a number of organisations, as both a therapist and drama facilitator, Mike has an interest in the psychological and symbolic importance of narratives. His research at the University of Roehampton is hoping to explore the significance of what he has observed in his clinical work: that the characters and stories people love have an impact on their psychological landscape.