Legacies season 1: Has the show done justice to Lizzie Saltman's bipolar disorder story arc?
In episode 10 that aired last week, this factor was highlighted like never before in the show, and as much as we'd like to say it is the way we want it to be, it really isn't.
Contains spoilers for Legacies episode 10
Lizzie Saltzman's character on 'Legacies' has always been one that you'd have to look really hard to see anything you like. She's selfish, jealous and extremely impulsive and deals with something no other character appears to do - Lizzie has a serious case of bipolar disorder. In episode 10, that aired last week, this factor was highlighted like never before in the show and as much as we'd like to say it is the way we want it to be, it really isn't. It's realistic and painful and very close to the truth.
One of the Saltzman twins, Lizzie's character development was pretty stark in the last episode. She not only sees the consequences of her choices that could lead to her losing her family but she also learns what it is like for her to walk in Josie's shoes.
Unfortunately, she's unable to take this wisdom with her to the present time, instead only thing she takes back are the consequences of this time travel. Lizzie's episodes get more pronounced and as the Jinni had predicted, she does slowly start to go insane.
The obvious problem with the way the show has portrayed Lizzie so far is that her personality flaws have always been blamed on her mental illness. It could be an unintentional move by the show, but if we look back at this season, it is almost always implied that Lizzie is who she is because she's bipolar. However, it could be absolutely intentional.
In the alternative reality where Josie is the popular twin and they both go to Mystic Falls public school instead of Salvatore's, Josie tells Lizzie that their dad Alaric fell off the wagon trying to take care of her.
It makes Alaric a terrible dad, yes, but it also implies that Josie ended up being the one to look after her and is pretty much sick of it. Lizzie, in her grief of being shunned and the root of all misery, loses her cool and breaks out some magic, revealing their identities and forcing them to flee.
This development in the story is disheartening, yes, but it is close to reality. Those who deal with mental illness are shunned and have to deal with a ridiculous amount of blame. Their family is affected as in Lizzie's case and they tend to be blamed for every unrelated flaw.
When Dana cracks an ableist joke in the fourth wish and Josie laughs along, if you look closely, you will see the layered references to bullying and peer pressure.
The episode also clarifies why Lizzie may potentially be so insecure about Hope. Deep inside, it is possible that she thinks that Hope is a more wholesome replacement for her because she doesn't think she's good enough.
As untrue as that is, Lizzie is just as affected by the stigma around mental health as is the rest of the supernaturals.
While it may come across as an imperfect representation of storytelling on screen, it is possible that the story arc intentionally tries to make her flawed personality rooted in her mental illness, so that we can see that she's actually above it all. But is it perfect? Maybe not. But we've got the rest of the season to figure that out.
Watch episode 10 of 'Legacies' on Thursday, February 21 at 9/8c on The CW