Television networks announced the fall programming schedules with a new slate of shows that was both good and bad news for portrayals of individuals with disabilities. The good news is that American culture is starting to get a meager improvement of representation of disabled characters, which leads me to the bad news.
The erroneous and misleading representations of physical disability are frequently mired in tragedy clichés (e.g., Cuban Gooding Juniorin the movie, “Radio)” with the disabled person “overcoming” or triumphing over their disability, effectively positioning themselves as conqueror of a war against his or her own body. It’s rare to witness a disabled character that integrates his or her disability into one’s identity, welcoming it as a positive and acceptable aspect of who he or she is as a person. This is of course unsurprising given the lack of disabled characters on television.
This leads us to the pitiful truth that there are only four new disabled individual roles on network television, and out of a mere four, three of the roles are NOT even played by disabled individuals. In the disability world, this is commonly ridiculed as, “Crip Drag,” where a disabled character is played by someone without a disability. Even individuals like Sarah Herron, who is an amputee, felt the discriminatory behavior of a gentleman on the show, “Bachelor in Paradise.” She is an unbelievably beautiful female who was discriminated against because the gentleman was clueless about what Sarah wanted to do that night.
Live everyday like it was your last,