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We finished the series (only four episodes) of Retribution on Netflix last night. My brother told me to watch it because of the way they handle schizophrenia. The series is a pretty good mystery, but the writers were lazy. Lazy is what I am going to start calling writers who can’t be bothered to move past stereotypes or do research.

The suspected killer in Retribution is “a schizophrenic off his medication.” No, I can’t make this stuff up. The character’s mental health has absolutely no value to the story whatsoever, and they decided to add that line. The story might have been stronger without the reference to schizophrenia. The character shows no symptoms of the illness and only shows symptoms of drug addiction (and people with a former addiction might have a problem with making the criminal a drug user, I don’t know. I don’t follow many people recovering from drug addiction).

Not only do the writers get schizophrenia wrong (stereotype and no sign of symptoms), but they get Parkinson’s wrong as well. My brother-in-law has had Parkinson’s for over twenty years, and my dad has it as well, and it isn’t a death sentence the way the movie makes it out to be. The way the character with the disease acts it is as if he only has a short time to live which is not the case with anyone I know with Parkinson’s.

I have three new books to read that all have a character with schizophrenia. I will be posting the books and how well I think the authors portray the illness. I still think movie writers do a poor job overall, let’s see if novels and memoirs are any better.

Do any of you have good examples of books or movies with mentally ill characters? I am mostly interested in the portrayal of schizophrenia, but if a book or movie has a good representation of bipolar disorder, I might read or watch it.