I can’t believe that it’s the end of July – this is my last Disability Pride Month post for the year! I had a lot of fun writing these, and I hope you enjoyed them, too, and maybe learned something along the way. But don’t worry – disability content isn’t going anywhere! Not only do I talk about disability regularly, next month is actually SMA Pride Month, so you’ll get more weekly disability content through August, too.
This week, I wanted to share some recommendations for good disability representation on screen. When I say good representation, I mean that the stories told aren’t cliche stories of disabled people as burdens, or as someone to be pitied, AND that the actors playing these characters are disabled themselves. This list isn’t exhaustive, but the full version of that list wouldn’t be that long, either. We still have a looong way to go until disabled people really feel represented on screen.
Crip Camp is a documentary about a 1971 summer camp – Camp Jened – specifically for teens with disabilities. It follows the campers both during their time at the camp and beyond, as they continue advocating and fighting for disability rights. Honestly, if you watch one thing from this list, I suggest this one! It’s the most accurate – it has disabled people talking about their lives, their experiences, and their activism. It’s also funnier than you’d imagine!
Best Summer Ever
Best Summer Ever is kind of a cross between Grease, High School Musical, and Glee. It’s about two high schoolers who meet at a theater summer camp, go their separate ways, but end up at the same place once the school year starts. But the coolest part about it is that the cast is fully diverse – disabled people are cast in many roles, with no mention of their disability. It’s a little bit cheesy, but it’s cute summer fun.
This show is hilarious, but also on the raunchier side, so be aware! It’s a sort of autobiographical show based on Ryan O’Connell’s life – after years of telling people he was injured in car accident, he decided to just be open and honest about his disability. The show chronicles his life working, making friends, and dating as a now “out” disabled man. It’s equally funny and heartwarming.
This is actually a show I haven’t gotten a chance to watch yet, but it’s on my list! It’s an animated adult show that’s a spin-off of the show Big Mouth – this time, from the point-of-view of the “hormone monsters.” The most recent season of the show has a character based on, and played by, Alice Wong, one of my disability activist role models. I love that they’re making their fictional world so diverse!
This show isn’t centered around a disabled character, but there is a recurring one, played by Shannon Devido (also in Best Summer Ever). My favorite part is the way that disability is treated in the show – it’s absolutely not a “Very Special Episode” type treatment, and the humor around it matches the humor in the show (it’s pretty crude). Watching this show and seeing this character was the first time I really felt seen and represented on TV, and it was a huge moment for me.
A Quiet Place
I love how well disability is woven into this movie – it’s a horror film about monsters who can only find you by sound. A family has managed to survive as long as they have because one of their children is d/Deaf, so they have multiple ways of communicating. I loved that they committed to casting an actual d/Deaf actor in the role, and think the movie is definitely better for it.
This show follows a group of classmates / friends in the UK, one of whom has a mom who is a sex therapist, hence the name of the show. The second season adds a new student to the mix – a disabled classmate who uses a wheelchair! They made sure to cast a disabled actor in the role, and they were really realistic about how they portrayed disability.