“Disabilities” and TV Portrayals- the sequel

I had written awhile back regarding the two up and coming TV shows at that time, Parenthood and Switched at Birth (see here), they have both been on screen for awhile. Parenthood has now been on for a total of three seasons, it also seems to have gained quite a few followers. Switched at Birth, has been on for only one season, with a promise of at least 22 more episodes according to ABC. Quite a few people tune in every week for this show as well.

Admittedly, Parenthood has fallen into disfavor with me. It became more soap opera like than drama. There was so much that they could have done with it, and they ended up with so much angst that was, to me, not needed. I still have 6 episodes in my Hulu queue. I just haven’t been able to have any excitement regarding this last season. So, I’d love to hear what other people think about it! Please comment on what you see regarding the Bavermans’ and how they are living with Max, the son who has Asperger’s syndrome.

Regarding Switched at Birth, I am still watching this one. But, once again, there is annoyance for me. Teenage soap drama anyone? First of all, I don’t think we need so many shows that have teenagers in and out of each other’s beds. Yea for Bay not jumping in the sack with Emmett!! Boo on Emmett sleeping with Simone because he was mad at the world!! (messing up not only Emmett’s relationship with Bay, but Emmett’s relationship to Daphne, the REST of the Kennishs and Regina (give it time), as well as messing up the relationship between Simone and her BF Toby Kennish)

But, I keep watching because: They are showing some wonderfully hard issues in this tv series. First and foremost- deafness. One of the main characters is DEAF. Not a side character- (though thanks to showing Carlton, a school for the Deaf, we see a lot of interaction between hearing and those who live in the Deaf culture). Travis, who is a newer character, is the perfect foil for Daphne who has embraced the hearing world in many ways, by straddling participation in two schools, and Emmett who is dating a hearing girl. Travis lives in a home that is revealed to have a mother who refused to learn ASL (American Sign Language) to talk with her son. We also get to witness Travis’ frustration and anger towards those who can hear, as well as gaining the sad knowledge that those who hear have treated him with great disrespect.

Then you have the issue  of actually being switched at birth and all the emotional issues that arise out of that. You also have the Cultural Divide being played out. How white collar- picket fence-White American lives beside lower middle class- hard working- single mother- Hispanic American who from the White American perspective came from a rough neighborhood. Not to mention Angelo who is Italian.

So, I am still watching Switched at Birth because there it is still a wonderful show that is playing out many difficult problems/issues with a good handle on what might actually happen. And like I’ve said before- they put Katie Leclerc, who actually has the disability (deafness) as one of the main characters which is wonderful. Huge points on my tally sheet!

Now onto the next show that has caught my attention. Only out for 3 episodes so far with 13 episodes promised, Touch is one of Fox’s newest shows. A Kiefer Sutherland show (which probably caused a lot of people to tune in), I admit that I was eager to watch it but cautious as well- after the first season of 24, I lost my joy of saving the world in 24 hours. The reason I watched it though, was because who Martin Bohm’s (Kiefer’s) son in the show was, Jake Bohm, a child who is mute.

Jake is a child who is considered gifted. We don’t know exactly what Jake has, only that he hasn’t said a word in all of his eleven years. Jake narrates the show, but never speaks to his father. Martin Bohm is constantly trying to communicate with his son. But Jake doesn’t like to be touched (unless he initiates the contact, which is rare), he rarely if ever looks at someone in the eye, and he is constantly writing down numbers. Martin realizes that numbers are the way Jake communicates. He just has to find the decoder.

As the show progresses, Sutherland does what he does best- run. His character realizes that the numbers represent people in some way: a phone number, an address, a time- something. These people all interact with one another in some way. They may be across the world, but their life still collides with that other person. Jake, through the act of writing down his numbers, tosses Martin into the role of bringing these people together in some way.

It’s a fascinating show, complicated and beautifully touching. I’m eager to see where they go with it as well as how the world interacts with Jake’s own personal world.

They’ve done a good job so far in showing the desperate need Martin Bohm has to communicate with his son. I believe there might be the strong possibility of some form of Autism that will be later revealed, but we will wait to see. Right now, Martin cannot touch his son, cannot talk to him, and he is desperately seeking that close relationship with him. We learn that Mrs. Bohm died in 9/11, and I think that grief and other emotional baggage with such a tragic death will later be played out as Martin continues to connect with his son.

Jake, being institutionalized due to his escaping and climbing to seriously high points, is another issue. So we have a glimpse into what a government ran institution might be like for children who are ‘specially gifted,’ as the show puts it. As well as what that might be like to be the father who loses his son, when he is doing the best he can.

There are many things in this show that I am eager to see where they go. I love that producers are finally hitting some of the topics that they have ignored or only dabbled in. I love the fact that the often ignored lives of some remarkable people are finally getting a light shined on them. I hope that they stay true in honoring those with disabilities, by showing respect and giving them their due in regards to their dignity.

Eagerly awaiting the next episode… 

Love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment and let’s discuss!

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