Manic Pixie Dream Nurse

There’s a film trope that’s become increasingly popular over the last few years which I’d like to call the Manic Pixie Dream Nurse. It probably has an actual, better name but you’re on my e-lawn which means you’re playing by my e-rules.

In movies such as Silver Linings Playbook, Adam, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Lars and the Real Girl, a female character comes into the life of the protagonist. The protagonist being a despondent, socially awkward male who also has a mental disorder.

There’s a few issues here, one being that in real life, having a mental disorder does not automatically translate to getting all of the babes. It’s not some sort of charming quirk that always comes with a side dish of hidden talent. “Hey, I’ll take the schizophrenia combo with gifted painting and a large iced tea.” Not everybody who has depression can write/dance/sing into ladyhearts.

Another issue is looks- not natural attractiveness but the fact that some of these disorders lead to deteriorating body image, either through neglect or side effects of medication. This doesn’t come into play in these movies, cuz the guys continue to look like Hollywood Gold. In certain cases that’s their only redeeming quality. Especially in Adam, where the titular dude is acts super obnoxious but omg has a home planetarium, and Rose Byrne visits and looks around in awe saying something like “you did all this?” and then suddenly gives him dat look and falls for him. Mostly because he is artfully tousled hipster Hugh Dancy. Strangely he doesn’t neglect his grooming despite committing every other social faux pas! HMMMMM.

In all of these films these guys are less “weird” and more “troubled”. Their respective leading ladies fall for them largely for reasons unknown, and it’s a little unrealistic. In reality it plays out more like a particular episode of the sitcom Just Shoot Me. Brian Posehn played an immensely awkward recurring character named Kevin, who could sing operatically, but whose improper behaviour led to his advances were rejected by women he approached. A more recent example would be the way Abed in Community acts. It’d be interesting to see a full-length dramedy handle the subject in this less glamorous fashion. One that shows the legitimate troubles of romantic interaction when burdened with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety or PTSD.