Remember the excitement you felt when you saw Lauren Potter come into the scene in Glee? (This was before the show took a turn for the worse… in my humble opinion, but I digress…) Need a reminder? Lauren Potter is an actress with Down Syndrome and in Glee she played Becky Jackson the Cheerios (cheer leaders) co-captain. She had been in the show for a couple of seasons but really hit it big in season 3 or 4 when she got the co-captain role. I was excited to see an actress with “special needs” in a somewhat main role in a very popular television show on prime time TV. Pretty cool right?
Cut to a couple of years later and I am binge watching Breaking Bad as I am nursing a baby in the middle of the night (plugging those young impressionable ears) and I see a differently abled actor playing Walter Witt, the main character’s son. He is walking with the assistance of crutches, is this just awesome acting? (Ala Leonardo DiCaprio in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.) Turns out it’s RJ Mitte, diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy.
Actors with special needs – has this always been this way or am I just catching on as me being the parent of a special needs child makes me more aware of other people around us who have special needs or challenges?
Regardless – As we kick of a new fall season of television shows we are seeing a very cool increase in actors with special needs in prime-time shows. According to this article “Eleven characters with disabilities are expected to be featured regularly on scripted prime-time programs on ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC this season, up from eight last year.”
Fox leads the other networks with a total of 7 characters featured on regular prime-time programs.
“Characters with disabilities are expected to appear on Fox in “Red Band Society,” “Empire” and “Glee” as well as ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” CBS’s “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” NBC’s “Parenthood” and “The Flash” on The CW.”
So let’s take a step back and shout hooray for the broadening of horizons, for the appreciation of our differences and for media spreading the word that people with special needs deserve to be popular and celebrated too!
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net