Monday, December 29, 2008

Dangerous Disability Comedy

It's happening again. A character on a new TV show has a disability.

Megan Mullally
-- you might remember her from Will and Grace -- has MS.
Well, you know how MS is. It is so volatile, and therefore difficult to diagnose, so it is also easy to deny. According to Megan's character, she has something "akin to MS." She plays a hospital administrator who relies on crutches for mobility. It sounds as if we are being set up to see some outrageous humor including pratfalls -- just what disability awareness needs!

"Children's Hospital" was written by and stars Rob Corddry who was a writer with The Daily Show, so we know he can be outside the box. Corddry's character is a doctor in clown make-up who uses humor as the best medicine. If we use The Daily Show as an example, we can expect the show to be built around outrageous humor.

Humor with a character defined by mobility issues may result in comedy of questionable style. Perhaps they should precede each episode with a warning that reminds us the humor is in the situation rather than the disability. Otherwise, it is happening again where a disability has been put on view as a laughter trigger.

Maybe "Children's Hospital" rises above that bullying and will be presented in a respectable style. Megan's previous series handled another hot topic -- gay life -- and it was presented well. Oh, wouldn't that be nice? I look forward to it.

NOTE: I am adding this note to ensure I am clear. I haven't seen the program yet, but I plan to watch, and I hope it is good. I applaud the use of people with disabilities in programs.

We all need humor. If hot topics were off limits, then there would be no topics. The disability community needs to be included in funny shows as well as dramatic shows and commercials -- just like everyone else.

Megan has proven to be a favorite comedy actress. The tragedy would be if the show makes fun of the character because of the condition "akin to multiple sclerosis." However it is done, maybe it will instigate talk. There's nothing wrong with talk.

Technorati technorati tags: , , , ,