Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Where Are All the People With Disabilities On TV?

I woke up this morning thought it was Wednesday, and that Glee would be on. I was wrong on both counts.

So instead of wishing it were tomorrow, I'll just write my six thousandth blogpost about my favorite new show.

Some people with disabilities are protesting the fact that Artie Abrams, the guy in Glee who uses a wheelchair, is played by an actor perfectly able to walk, run, and shoot hoops. Okay, maybe not that last one. I have no idea if Kevin McHale can play basketball.

The disabled community wants to know: Why didn't Glee cast an actual guy in a wheelchair to play a guy in a wheelchair?

Great question. According to the U.S. Census, about 20% of the general population age 5-64 has some form of mental or physical disability. Yet we see less than 2% of characters with disabilities on TV. And since not all of those characters are actually played by people with disabilities, real disabled people are left even more in the lurch.

Glee's response to the disabled people: We tried and we tried, but it was hard enough getting talented people who could sing and act, let alone people like that who happened to be in a wheelchair. Okay. Fair point. I say this grudgingly, because there's got to be one guy out there in a wheelchair who can sing and has charisma, and I can't believe Glee didn't find him in this age of Google.

I'm trying to think of another character who's in a wheelchair or has some kind of disability. The only one I can think of (and I thought of him because I just read the article that prompted this post) is the new guy on Private Practice, Michael Patrick Thornton, who plays Naomi's potential love interest. A) It's about time they gave Naomi a love interest who is not Addison's brother or Naomi's own ex, and B) I really like the new guy. He has spunk and his research is exciting and controversial. I'm sure he'll add a lot to the show.

I've decried the dirth of minorities and gay characters on TV before. I can't believe I forgot about people with disabilities. I made the same mistake network TV made. Well, never again. From now on, disabled community, Linda's TV is looking out for you.

P.S. Artie Abrams, I still adore you. I can't imagine anyone else playing you.

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