“We're capable of managing the responsibility without serving as the voice of saving, of always saving and rescuing,” Aduba says. Pop culture has a long history of saddling Black women characters as the “voice of saving.” In a Slate piece from 2018
, Aisha Harris posits that the ‘Black Lady Therapist’ [is] just the latest outgrowth of the storied Black Best Friend
.” She writes that Black Lady Therapists “exist in these narratives for the sole purpose of listening to the woes of their white patients, not unlike the BBF, and helping them arrive at a process for fixing themselves.” In In Treatment
, not only does Brooke treat patients who are not white (in the first four episodes, two of the three patients are people of color), she’s also fixated on her own process of growth as much as her patients. That’s a groundbreaking progression for this trope that may be better for Black women onscreen than the Mammy
, but still confines them to a one-dimensional sidekick that is hovering real close to the Magical Negro
of cinema’s past. In this show, Brooke is no one’s sidekick. “I think it's important to see a Black woman at the center of a story about mental health and therapy,” Aduba says.