New Series "Pure" Explores Living With OCD, Porn Addiction

By David Konow 02/06/19

The British series Pure is based on a memoir by Rose Cartwright.

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Marnie in the TV series "Pure"

Pure is a new British TV series that is based on a memoir by Rose Cartwright. The show is about a Scottish woman transplanted in London named Marnie who has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and she is called a Pure O, or “pure obsessive state,” which is a variation of obsessive compulsive disorder where a person is plagued by intrusive, unwanted thoughts that involve something terrible happening.

While Marnie doesn’t have the physical rituals of OCD, her character constantly has intrusive thoughts where she sees people naked and having sex everywhere she goes.

In the show, Marnie explains her condition, “It’s like The Sixth Sense but I don’t see dead people, I see naked ones. Most people move to London to seek their fortune. I’ll settle for some answers.”

At first, Marnie thinks she’s a sex addict, but then she learns more about her condition when she meets people she hopes can help her.

The show also follows Charlie, who is addicted to porn. Charlie is played by Joe Cole (Black Mirror, Peaky Blinders), and as he tells Esquire, “I didn’t know about Pure O before I read the script, and then [I] started researching. Very few people seem to know that it exists, and know that it’s a form of OCD. I think it’s great that we’re shedding light on it, because when Rose was young she never had something like this that she could see and understand what she was going through.”

When asked how he’s seen mental illness being portrayed on TV before, Cole said, “I think these conditions have been previously expressed in comedies and comedy dramas as just, like, hysterical people. And we’re not actually trying to delve in and find out what it really is and try to give a true representation. Not just make a joke about it, but actually explore it in an interesting way and have fun along the way. I can’t really remember a mental health drama when I was growing up, watching teen shows.”

In playing a character who has an addiction to porn, Cole was asked if he was able to draw any conclusions about the condition from playing his character. “Nothing that I could give you in a neat little sentence,” he said. “I think compassion is key, and at the moment porn addiction is still quite taboo. Someone [with the condition] said they’d rather be addicted to drink—people have far more compassion and empathy [for it]. But they’re real conditions, and people are suffering with them.”

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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