Why we work on reality showsApr 21 04:54
I read an article recently (Reality TV Gets More Real) on how people with disabilities are becoming a trend on reality shows, or at the very least, becoming more accepted by casting agents and being let on these various love ‘em or loathe ’em reality shows (woo being recognized in the airport here we come!). People with disabilities have been featured on several high-profile reality shows. Some of the most well known instances include Dancing with the Stars (ex-model and amputee Heather Mills), The Amazing Race (Sarah Reinhertsen, amputee, finished 7th), The Celebrity Apprentice (deaf actress Marlee Matlin) and Last Comic Standing (Josh Blue, who won, has Cerebral Palsy).
When Survivor premiered in the late ‘90s, giving birth to the reality show boom, people with disabilities were rarely if ever seen on reality shows. It’s been a gradual growth process over recent years, since about 2006, when Josh Blue won Last Comic Standing. And now we‘re in 2011 and we’re everywhere in the reality show world, even flowing over into non-reality show territory like Glee. Let’s hope this trend is here to stay.
James Durbin, the rocker on the current season of American Idol, has Tourette’s and Aspberger’s Syndrome. The most recent season of The Amazing Race featured a man who was deaf as well. And then there’s the new cable series Take a Seat, on Universal Sports (owned by NBC), in which an able-bodied documentary filmmaker Dominic Gill shares a tandem bike with 10 physically challenged partners during a cross-country trip. You can watch episodes here.
But why, after all the years, are we finally being accepted on reality shows? The truth? Casting agents are finally realizing that viewers will respond positively to disabled contestants, not negatively as feared. That was the original concern of course, that “no one wants to see someone with a disability. It makes people uncomfortable.” But the ratings never dipped on any of these shows.
We work well on reality shows because we’re relatable. No one on any reality show has a perfect life, but people can better relate to someone in a struggle, but keeps on keeping on, more than a rich Beverly Hills housewife stressing about missing a nail appointment. We show the reality of life. The fullness of life. Add in the curiosity factor, and we’re ratings gold.
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1. Joe | Apr 29 03:47
Whatever the motivation, and however you may feel about the reality TV, I would say it's better being included that excluded. Now, if we could just get more TV time for wheelchair sports...
2. Tiffiny | May 02 04:29
@joe: you're absolutely right. being ON tv is always better than not....always. :)
3. Jazzy Lady | Mar 20 05:09
Pls take a look at YouTube / Lorraine Lofaso. I am a jazz singer, now mobility challenged. Let me know if you can use this recent video in your newsletter. I suggest the song "You've Changed".
4. Jazzy Lady | Mar 20 05:12
This is the first time I heard of this blog. Wonderful! I'll be looking in often
Disability buzz, travel, fashion and dating — fun things to amp up everyday wheeling life.
Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.