Sunday, March 19, 2017

Storyteller’s Rulebook: Audiences Hate Therapists

One of the best scripts I read had one glaring flaw: the hero’s best friend was a therapist, and diagnosed his problems with insight. Audiences hate therapists. They do our job for us. It always feels like the writer is inserting himself or herself into the story to tell us what's really going on psychologically. We want to be the ones who figure out the subtext.

Everybody loves Psycho, but everybody hates the last scene, where the therapist arrives and explains what it all really means.

I recommended to that writer to have the friend just be a normal schlub, giving amateur advice filtered through his own needs, prejudices, and flaws.

I told you that some of these would be short!


James Kennedy said...

I have heard that the most effective way to be a therapist is to repeat the phrase "it's not your fault" until Matt Damon cries

Anonymous said...

“It’s all your parents’ fault. Sue them.” repeated ad nauseam is also common. iRL, I mean. Usually a few other people who might get you off that therapist also get plenty blame, but most of it goes to the parents.
I’ve been to such a therapist. Good thing I really have trust-issues, because according to internet, that con usually works.

on topic: Another reason why people hate therapists in movies might be that they are unrealistic. They always know what’s going on in other people, while RL therapists have no clue. They’ve learned symptoms of common disorders and a few manipulation tricks that they can use either way, but definitely not telepathy.

Glen said...

Externally depict, in images, the internal emotions of your hero.

This is the ultimate screenwriters challenge.

I would agree that having Robin Williams tells us what's going on inside Matt Damons head feels a bit like a get out of cheap expostion free card.

Any ideas on how to re-boot the therapist genre?m so that audiences like it?