Special is a new Netflix show released on the 13th April 2019 in the UK about Ryan, a gay and disabled man learning to be okay with both of these identities. Ryan actually wrote the show himself, and he is both gay and disabled in real life. He has cerebral palsy.
My first observation, really, was that “Special” is kind of an offensive title to name a show about a disabled person but this is such important representation that it didn’t really feel like it mattered.
I made a thread here on Twitter livetweeting the show as I was watching it, but I can summarise it below.
My Thoughts While Watching the Show
Even though I don’t have cerebral palsy, I am disabled and I’m also gay so I could relate to so much of the content in this show. It’s such a breath of fresh air to see a show that was actually made for me. It makes me a little upset, at times, because this is exactly what ATypical should have been like but wasn’t for us autistic folk. (I did a blog post on ATypical and why it’s harmful and offensive here if you want to know my reasoning as to why I won’t support it)
Some of the relatibility that I want to support:
- How, when explaining his CP, he did it in really bored tone of voice which I’ve done with autism so many times. I really don’t mind explaining it to people who want to know, but it does get boring after doing it for a majority of my life.
- He talks about how he isn’t abled enough to be able to fit in with abled people, but not disabled enough to be taken seriously as disabled as this was oof…painfully true
- He gets upset because his disability means that he is far behind his peers
- The season is about facing up to his own interalised ableism which I feel like a lot of disabled people have been like at some point in their life, and it’s all something we’ve had to pay attention to at some point, especially since disabled people having interalised ableism is used by abled people a lot to defend their own ableism
- Ryan’s close friend, Kim, is fat and talks about the issues she has with her own body and the difficulties she had to go through to accept her apperance – different because Kim is a WOC and I’m white, so our experiances with our bodies are very different, but on the weight issues I get it
- Being recjected by other people because of your disability
- Gay, disabled sex is spoken about openly and I’m like YES THANK YOU we have sex too
- His mother tries her best but still makes ignorant comments like “normal people” implying Ryan isn’t normal
There are so many moments in this show that made me laugh out loud. For example, when Ryan was asked what parts of his body that he loved, he said he loves his nipples because they’re nipples and they’re the same on everyone and the phrase “where’s theres a way there’s a gay way”
Kim is especially hilarious. I absolutely adore her, and I’m more than a little bit in love with her. Even the darker, more serious moments are lightened with funny, cute moments to keep it fluffy and easier to watch.
She’s SO funny. She also talks about her difficulties as a fat WOC and the lengths she has to go to so she can be accepted by other people, especially by her white collegues.
So, in conclusion, I think you should watch it! It’s amazing, funny and fluffy while extremely important to me because it’s the representation I both needed and wanted. My only hope is that this encourages similar stories told by gay, disabled POC as well.