A Charlie Brown Therapy: Lucy’s Ineptitude As Shrink

When the award-winning TV special A Charlie Brown Christmas initially aired in 1965 we also saw a Charlie Brown therapy when he turned to Lucy’s psychiatric booth to deal with holiday depression. A Charlie Brown Christmas continues to be one of the most watched shows at this time of year.

A recent article about this classic, entitled “Annie Hall for Kids? Yes, But Darker!: Recapping A Charlie Brown Christmas,” (Bruce Handy and Juli Weiner, Vanity Fair) is worth reading for its humorous interpretations of the “Peanuts” kids’ characterizations from an adult point of view.

In this beloved Christmas special, it’s notable that Charlie Brown seeks “therapy” for his depression by going to his friend Lucy’s psychiatric booth, where she regularly provides her services (for “5 cents please”) in the “Peanuts” cartoon strip.

Yes, shrinks and clients out there, Lucy believes she can solve any presenting problem for this amount of money. And no, her advice is generally not worth even that.

The first time, in fact, that Charlie ever consults therapist Lucy—during a previous bout of depression—she simply replies, “Snap out of it, five cents please.” Like the Charlie Brown that he is, though, he doesn’t stop trying.

Could it be that Charlie Brown would be cured by now of his recurrent depressive episodes if Lucy were more compassionate, competent, and, well, knowledgeable? Probably not, actually—because, as Charlie’s purported friend, she also lacks another key shrink ingredient, therapeutic objectivity.

That being said, one of the saving graces of the following Lucy-treats-Charlie session is that Lucy ultimately does seek a solution for his Christmas malaise that actually makes some sense.

Merry therapy to you and yours this season.

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