I've been enjoying all the press coverage lately of one of my favorite actors, Michael J. Fox. I loved this Rolling Stone interview, (here) and you can Click here to see him interviewed on Jimmy Fallon!
Remember my post a few months ago about inclusion of disabilities in the arts and media? (For a refresher, click here.) After that event, I wrote a show based on my life. I don't know if it will ever get made, but I'm incredibly proud of it, and pleased that it got written. I don't even update this blog as much as I should, so a show was a big achievement creatively. Above all, I strove to make it funny, because at its best times, my life with cerebral palsy is truly hilarious and not sad or worthy of pity. My main character just happens to have cerebral palsy, a supportive spouse, and a lot of fun friends. What can I say? It reflects my life.
Until my show is made, I hope to have the pleasure of many, many seasons of the new Michael J. Fox show on NBC.
(Click here for info about the show on NBC's website, and click here to see the show's page on Hulu.) Have you watched it yet? It's fantastic. (Check your local listings! Do I sound like an announcer in your head?)
I grew up watching Michael J. Fox on Family Ties and Spin City. I don't know about you, but I've been curious about his life with Parkinson's since he left t.v. It makes me so happy to have him in my living room again. I adore this show.
I love that it addresses real life with a disability, and feels authentic doing it. His life and limitations due to Parkinson’s are explored with humor and grace.
I've watched the pilot several times now. I had quite a moment when his wife said, while kissing him, "When did you last take your medicine?"
I don't know that having Parkinson's is anything like cerebral palsy, but I can tell you that similar conversations have gone down in my bedroom. As a disabled woman, I can't tell you how great it feels to see a real marriage that looks like mine, on mainstream television. One partner has some physical limitations and issues, and the other does not. That exact paradigm is often reflected in my marriage. Sometimes my husband manages to injure himself, or get sick, and then I get to be in the supportive spouse chair instead of on the exam table. I’ve learned it’s stressful either way!
I also loved that the show addressed what it's like to always be featured as the "overcoming adversity" story. I remember being that story in my local newspaper and on our local Fox affiliate channel growing up. I also feel like rolling my eyes when some people tell me I'm so inspiring because in my mind, I'm just dealing with the challenges I have with as much grace as I can muster. (Ironic sidenote: my hands hurt today, so I wanted to dictate this post instead of typing it, but I couldn't find my Bluetooth headset. When I found it, I realized the battery was dead. There I was, feeling creative, and wanting to write words about life with a disability, while in the midst of my chaotic life with a disability...it was kinda funny.)
How Michael looked opening that pickle jar is how I’m pretty sure I look opening anything with a lid. That scene could have been shot in our kitchen, except it probably would have been a jar of olives, because my husband and I have not yet perfected kosher dills. I’m looking forward to the day we get them right. Stay tuned...)
I was struck by the scene of his daughter shooting video of that pickle jar scene, capitalizing on the pity factor, calling her dad a hero, in the exact same way he said he DOESN’T want to be treated, with “lame music”.
Lame was a particularly interesting word choice for that line, I thought. Growing up, my dad wouldn’t let me use it because he had some sort of problem with it. (Hi to my jerk father-- I hope you’re reading this, because it’s high time I got a few things off my chest regarding your lambasting of the term “lame”. I think we, the disabled community, have a right to say and use words like gimp and lame because technically, they succinctly describe what we are. (Here’s a link to the word lame defined by Merriam-Webster.) I raise my defiant middle finger to you, dad, for defending the word lame, instead of your own daughter. You were a huge bully to ME, and you suck for telling me I’m an embarrassment.)
I thought it was interesting that the daughter character on the show said, “Parkinson’s disease is the dustbowl of my family”-- because any illness, chronic or acute, changes the landscape of a family. I understand that it was probably really hard on my brother having me as a disabled sibling, but it’s difficult for me to feel very understanding or apologetic about that when he has been so very mean to me about it. I wish that my family didn’t see cerebral palsy as something that needed to be erased or eradicated or ignored or ashamed about, because it really damaged me.
I am indescribably grateful that I get to tune into NBC now, and fill that gap creatively.
The only way that I have found peace with my disability as an adult is through having loving friends that accept me for who am, and assert that I have worth even though I am different. Thanks for reading, friends. I’d love to know what you think of the new Michael J. Fox show!