Friday, October 3, 2014

31 for 21: The Specials

When the doctor said the words "Down Syndrome," my first thought was, "Now my son can never be a reality TV star."

Okay, maybe that's not exactly how it happened.

With the abundance of reality programming available, I didn't jump to watch The Specials--a show about five young adults with intellectual disabilities living in a house in the UK--when I first heard about it.  But with the second wave of publicity as it's second season hit Oprah's network, my curiosity got the better of me.  And at less than 15 minutes an episode, it's hardly a commitment.

At first I was looking for more substance in The Specials.  Who exactly lives in the house with the cast?  How much support do these folks need?  How much independence do they have at work and at school?  Who handles the cooking, the cleaning, the laundry, or balancing the checkbook?

And then I realized, The Specials intentionally ignores all of that.

The Specials isn't about the caretakers.  It isn't about the testing or the IQs or the life skills.  It isn't about inspiring anyone or proving the achievements of people with intellectual disabilities.

It is about friendships and love and having a fun night singing karaoke with your friends.  It is about taking your bestie surfing after his heart is broken, and supporting your friend as she learns her parents are getting divorced.

Like any good reality show, sometimes it's about making a fool out of yourself for love.  Or for lust.  At 19, what's the difference, really?

It's about making this one anxious mama relax and giggle while she takes her afternoon-naptime break.

So kudos to the producers of The Specials for practicing the sort of inclusion we all preach--frivolity and all.  Season One is available to watch online here.

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