Watching Movies with a Writer

7:00 AM Elizabeth Seckman 9 Comments

This is a post about why you can't watch a movie with a writer, or even worse a writer who knows enough about something to add in a professional opinion on top of the craft mumbo jumbo. At least not if you want to watch it in peace. At every plot point, you'll likely get an education about the process, a googling of the laws where the story is set...basically an ongoing, overly annoying sidebar and deconstruction of every single plot point. 

I know this because I can be that annoying pain in the rumpus. 

My husband and I watched Unsane on Netflix.  It's about a woman who is suffering from PTSD who goes to a therapist for counseling and ends up committed to a mental hospital. During the entire movie, I threw in my mental health two-cents at every turn. Things like- bad therapist characterization...a good therapist would ask more follow-up questions. 

Then there was the obligatory disagreement and explanation of how the process really works. Little things, like wouldn't a legal document have to be verified by at least a notary?  And where is the judge in this whole process? The mental hygiene committee? I'm throwing the BS card that just one person can sign off on a commitment. 

It's worth a watch

And if that's not annoying enough, then the writer in me starts to reinvent the plot. The story would be better and more realistic if you had colluding agencies. A crooked cabal of mental health, law enforcement, and judicial systems. But what would be the point of that? What's the motivation to lock up just anyone? Maybe there would be a motive to lock up your rich, eccentric aunt whose estate an evil family member wants control of. But to just lock up a random person?

Then as if that wasn't bad enough, there's also the tendency to compare the movie with your own stories. Like in Past Due, my MC agrees to a voluntary commitment because I knew adding an involuntary commitment wouldn't seem realistic without adding the time-consuming process of filing all the paperwork with the court. 

Without that, where's the realism? 

Unless you were writing a historical or a story containing a time machine so you could set the story back in the Victorian Era when men could have their wives locked up for hysteria, or in some cases overeducation. Like there was this one case where a woman's husband had her decreed a lunatic because she disagreed with his religious fundamentalism and joined the Methodist Church. 

You know, now that I mention it...wouldn't that make an awesome story?! 

And that leads us to the final annoying habit of watching a movie with a writer who knows a little something about something...all the many ways they could apply all of the above-mentioned information to a future story so they leave you watching all alone while they run for a notebook to jot down notes. 


  1. Funny! I haven't destroyed a movie like that, but I can spot all of the inconsistent and unrealistic parts.

    1. I bet doctors and police officers are pains to watch shows with too. LOL

  2. We definitely have a different perspective don't we?

  3. OMG LOL!! You've just described me!!!! He he he what a fabulous post, Elizabeth!!!
    Suzy xx

  4. Oh, dear! Do I really sound like that. LOL Oops! Recognition here. Will I change my ways, nah, hubby usually gets involved with the deconstruction of the story. It's part of the fun! Okay, for us it is, for a stranger, totally irritating! LOL Love the post!

  5. Great post. Now I want to see that show. All it takes is one mental health "professional" to Baker Act someone, and once a person has been Baker Acted, that probably makes it easier to keep the person. I don't know about actual commitment, though. X said he would see to it I was locked in a mental institution for the rest of my life. His psychiatrist tole me he couldn't do it. Anyway, I escaped him. I like your idea for a story.



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