Regular readers of the blog will know that we’re big fans of Netflix at Minis HQ. So much so that I often long to get rid of our TV subscription and rely solely on what Netflix has to offer us. There are so many great films and series now for both the minis and ourselves to enjoy. I am always on the look out for interesting shows that paint those with a disability in a positive light. I especially love shows that go that bit further with total inclusion and don’t just throw a pity party for the person with the perceived disability. Here are some of the ones we love to watch that are currently streaming on Netflix. Warning some spoilers lie ahead!
Abed is in the words of his father,”a very special boy.” Possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of things film related and the ability to absorb new information at a ferocious speed, Abed is nonetheless inept at social interactions and frequently misjudges situations. He is often cold and robotic and either makes too much eye contact or too little. This heavily hints at Asperger’s but is never confirmed. An early episode paints a bleak picture of his childhood-ferried from doctor to doctor without a correct diagnosis being made, causing a rift to occur between his parents, which culminates in his mother leaving the family home. Throughout the series, he is mocked for being “weird” but is loved by his friends who in time come to celebrate his differences as something that makes him a truly unique individual and someone to be admired not feared. Interestingly when show creator Dan Harmon began researching the character of Abed, he discovered that he too had a form of Aspergers.
In season 6 of this zany cartoon series, Finn, or to use his full title,Finn the Human loses his arm. This has major implications for Finn as he now realises his body isn’t as invincible as he thought previously. Undeterred, and shedding no tears for his lost arm, he continues on his mission for the Crystal Eye, with his trusty sidekick, Jake the Dog.
Jason Street-Friday Night Lights
In the pilot for this fantastic Texas-based series, the star quarter back, Jason Street is paralysed after taking a massive hit trying to prevent the opposing team from scoring a winning touchdown . He suffers an injury to his C7 and T1 vertebrae which leaves him without the use of his lower limbs and only limited use of his hands. After some initial wallowing in grief for the death of his professional football dreams, and an aborted trip to Mexico to try some supposedly revolutionary surgical procedure which will allegedly allow him to walk again, Jason accepts his wheel chair bound fate and never looks back. Aided by the fantastic Herc, who suffered the same injury as Jason, he forges a new future for himself, which includes stints as a football coaching assistant and car salesman, before finding his true calling as a successful agent. The actor who portrayed Street, Scott Porter, has been praised for his convincing turn as a but what about actors who have a real life disability?
Louis Canning- The Good Wife
I’m sure I’m not the only one who rejoiced in seeing Michael J. Fox back on our screens. The actor was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991. His recurring role in the excellent court room drama, The Good Wife, sees him incorporate the motor symptoms associated with Parkinson’s into his character, Louis Canning, who has tardive dyskinesia, a condition which causes erratic body movements. His diminutive stature and disability often means that people feel sorry for Canning but he possesses a sharp legal mind that you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. Witness this exchange between Canning and the bumbling Howard Lyman from Season 5:
Howard Lyman: “What do I call you? Is it, uh, crippled, or handicapped, or what’s that other word?”
Louis Canning: “What do you call me? How about Louis?”
Howard Lyman: “No. When I’m talking to other people. What do I call you? Challenged. Isn’t that the word? Challenged. Do you like that?”
Yes, Canning answers without skipping a beat. He is clearly bemused by Lyman’s query, but it is no doubt one he feels is bubbling just below the surface during many of his interactions with other, more “able-bodied” individuals. It’s this kind of exchange-the taking of something awkward and turning it on its head, leaving the viewer with no doubt as to who is on top that makes The Good Wife such compelling viewing.
Have you any great characters to add to our list?
Disclaimer: I am a part of the Netflix Stream Team and received a free subscription to the service and an Apple TV in exchange for regular reviews. I am not paid to provide these reviews and all opinions remain my own honest ones.