5 Great TV Shows About Relationships in Recovery

Contrary to popular belief, you can have a healthy relationship with someone in recovery from an addiction. In fact, recovering addicts are some of the most self-aware people you’ll ever meet.

That being said, dating someone in recovery is not easy or straightforward. Learning to negotiate boundaries with your partner while they learn to negotiate their relationship with their addiction can be messy, exhausting, and at times traumatic for both people involved. It’s also an experience that has been woefully underrepresented in popular culture. As a result, these relationships can feel incredibly isolating, and the choice of whether or not to disclose an addiction to family and friends becomes yet another agonizing burden to bear. 

As someone with both a strong sense of social justice and an unabashed love of television, I believe that representation matters when it comes to the characters we watch. Fortunately, more and more stories of people struggling with addiction, and the people who love them, are being beautifully portrayed on TV.

In this post, I share five of my favorite TV shows about relationships in recovery. As we enter the umpteenth month of the pandemic, I hope that you find something new to watch, and fall in love with, in one of the stories below. 

Feel Good

This semi-autobiographical comedy series from the U.K. follows thirty-something comedian and recovering addict Mae Martin as she embarks on a relationship with George, a repressed English woman who has never been in a queer relationship. As George struggles with the decision of whether or not to tell her family and friends about Mae, Mae struggles with the realization that this new relationship has itself become a kind of addiction, which threatens her hard-won stability. Feel Good is a very funny and very romantic series that poignantly portrays the complications of dating in recovery while also providing a nuanced look at gender and sexuality. Feel Good is available on Netflix.


I love Love. Co-created by Judd Apatow, this Netflix original series depicts what happens when boy meets girl in the form of Gus (Paul Rust) and Mickey (Community’s Gillian Jacobs). What starts out as a fling soon turns into something deeper, and at times darker, as Mickey—a recovering love, sex, and alcohol addict—struggles to control her intense moods and Gus, who has his own emotional baggage that he’s reticent to claim, struggles with the idea of commitment. Neither of the characters are particularly likable, but that’s what makes them lovable; their insecurities are instantly recognizable to anyone who’s ever wanted so badly to love someone, yet been terrified of what that actually looks like. Love is available on Netflix.


The darkly comic Catastrophe stars two incredibly hilarious and incredibly talented actor-comedians, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, as forty-something singles who attempt to turn their one-night-stand into a bonafide relationship when Sharon gets pregnant. What follows is a madcap stab at parenting, marriage, home ownership, and the other “catastrophes” of adult life. Compounding the chaos is Rob’s sobriety, which dangles by a thread as their responsibilities mount. Along the way, Sharon and Rob’s brutal honesty manages to both doom and salvage their relationship again and again. What pushes this TV show from excellent to exceptional is the appearance of mental health warrior and all-around badass Carrie Fisher (!!!) as Rob’s magnificently crotchety and weird mom. Catastrophe is available on Amazon Prime.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is an all-around phenomenal show when it comes to depicting mental illness in general, but I particularly like its portrayal of addiction and recovery in the character of Greg. For those unfamiliar with the show’s format, it is a *musical* comedy-drama that follows lawyer Rebecca Bunch as she leaves her lucrative job in New York City to live near her ex-boyfriend from summer camp, Josh Chan. Along the way, Rebecca starts an on-again, off-again relationship with Josh’s best friend, Greg, an alcoholic bartender. Greg and Rebecca’s relationship is an interesting one because it shows what happens when two “broken” people attempt to come together while also attempting to mend their relationships with themselves. This show is so smart, so funny, and full of so many ridiculous songs that you’re sure to return it. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is available on Netflix.

Tuca and Bertie

Last but not least is Tuca and Bertie, a Netflix animated comedy that features the writing and drawing talent of Lisa Hanwalt of Bojack Horseman (another great show about addiction and recovery) fame. The show centers on the mismatched friendship between two thirty-something bird-women, Tuca (Tiffany Haddish), a fun-loving and newly sober toucan, and Bertie (Ali Wong), an anxiety-ridden song thrush. This show is spot-on in its portrayal of the daily struggles and victories of sobriety, and while it’s more about a friendship in recovery than a romantic relationship, it still manages to poignantly cover the difficulty of dating while sober, and there’s just so much to love about its empathetic portrayal of Bertie’s mental illness. Tuca and Bertie is available on Netflix.


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