Many people have been voicing concern about Rich’s mental health or denouncing the story line that was written for Rich stating that it made him seem weak. I disagree with both of these statements. Completely.
1. Rich is a REALITY based person. He knows that Grace is gone and he knows that he has to move on with his life. His visions of Grace and his conversations with her in Episode 2 was about talking Rich through everything so when he gets the news he always knew he was going to get he could handle it. The visions and conversations he has had with Grace after his episode are not about escaping reality, but instead accepting it. He is remembering her for everything she was to him. A vision of hope, optimism, fun, and yes even a future. He is not living an alternative reality he is just keeping Grace close to him and through everything that is Grace—Rich becomes a better and a stronger person. Building on the foundation he already had as a stubborn, passionate, snarky, and dependable metal head. He’s not hiding behind Grace. He is being guided by Grace.
2. This is actually quite a common way of coping when people lose their spouses. When you build a life and build routines with someone you are not only grieving the person you are grieving your life. Everything changes. The mind has built in defenses that come into play when people are in severe emotional turmoil. One of those defenses is “false realities.” My Grandmother was devoted to my Grandfather. When he passed away she was strong and it surprised me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I asked her about it and she said “he’s still here” and she pointed at her head. When you are so in tune with someone and that someone is important to you…they stay with you. I had similar experiences with my friend. Rich is young though so he will be able to make new memories and will have a second chance at love. However as we learn in “Mini and Franky’s” episode Rich was making plans with Grace she may as well have been his wife.
3. He was future oriented. He focused on getting into school and moving his life forward. Instead of moping around, getting drunk, fucking off, and fucking up. He was moving forward instead of focusing on the past that he can’t change. IT HAPPENED and no amount of blame, tears, screams, or anything else is going to change it. This is the reality that he lives in and he is going to think about it. He’s not standing still. He is living.
Rich’s grief is real and you can feel it. With every shot of his face you can see a watery gleam upon his eyes and you can see how lost he feels. He talks to Alo about how he wishes he could be with Grace and have the opportunity that Alo has. That Alo should be happy he has the chance to be with Mini. He understands the future and understands what happened. Grace helped him not lose himself and the things she taught him made him stronger. He is doing her proud and being as metal as you can possibly get. He’s not hating or blaming. He is not self-harming. He loved a girl. He loved a girl so much she changed him without him noticing and without her forcing it. This girl lived so beautifully, she smiled, and she saw beauty in everything. Rich is honoring her. He is strong. He is metal.
Grief is a selfish process. An understandable selfish process that we all have the right to go through and to be honest can’t help but go through. It is rarely about the person, but instead about our own loss. Rich’s grief process began off screen as that same selfish principle of “why couldn’t you say more” and “this is all I get.” Then his grief process turned from being selfish about what he lost and changed into an optimism about what he had. Rich’s life was better for knowing Grace and Rich knows that. Rich is remembering her and not grieving her.
This is why Rich is one of the strongest characters Skins has ever written.