citizen-kitten asked: So this show Perception premiered tonight, about a college professor/FBI consultant who has schizophrenia. So far I'm not really sure how I feel about it. I was wondering if you guys caught it, and had any thoughts? The Newsroom (which I am totally digging) has a character with an anxiety disorder, and I really like their treatment of it thus far.
For clarity’s sake, we’ll break down our views by person! Also, as a disclaimer, we don’t have cable, so we didn’t watch the entire show. We have, however, seen many promos for it and watched cast interviews with clips, so we’ve got a pretty good idea.
From the very start, this show strikes me as a hugely popular, yet already-stale trope: The Magical Mentally-Ill Dude That Fixes Everything For Uptight Super-Serious Lady-Agent. For one thing, haven’t we seen this dynamic about 50 times by now? And for another, I’m all about positive portrayals of the mentally ill, but treating the diseases as if they were X-Men-like superpowers doesn’t help, either. It’s still encouraging unfair and unrealistic stereotyping. Just once, I would love to see the topic of mental illness handled in a way that was neither vilifying or glorifying, something sedate and honest. I guess that doesn’t make for good television.
And for K’s views:
Having only seen previews and clips, I can’t speak too deeply on the subject, but from what I know I can honestly say that they’re going about this all wrong. Yes, please make more shows and movies with people that have mental illnesses. Yes, please try to steer away from ‘everyone with a mental illness is a criminal’. But also, please portray them honestly. The way this guys’ character is set up, he sees hallucinations of the dead people’s cases he’s trying to solve? That gives an unfair portrayal that mental illness = sixth sense. No, it means your brain is wired wrong and you need constant help and therapy (and possibly medication) just to exist. I’m not saying that some hallucinations aren’t your subconscious trying to work things out for you, but for nearly 100% of his hallucinations to be helpful, benevolent types that solve crimes? That just smacks of hollywood idiocy. Also, they kind of stole it from an Asian film.
Anything that gets people to think about those with mental illnesses and consider them real, viable human beings that are capable of living their own lives is fine in my book. I just hope if this show continues that they do a better job of portraying mental illness as what it is - not a Ghost Whisperer rip-off of what people think it should be. People with paranoid schizophrenia are not magical. They’re just people. Treat them as such and we’ll all have a better time.
- citizen-kitten said: Thank you both! I was really disappointed with the show. Stale, uninteresting, shallow characters, & it seems schizophrenia is simply a plot device. I’ll give it another episode to be fair though. However I would highly recommend The Newsroom!
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