Ever since the third season of Sex Education hit the screens, the discussion around the character Issac Goodwin by George Robinson was revived yet again. The portrayal by the actor, who himself is tetraplegic and moves with a wheelchair after an injury during a game of rugby had helped writing the character. The diversity, inclusivity and the accurate presentation of their life and the challenges that they face has been highly appreciated by fans and critics alike. The storyline shows Issac as a person comfortable in his own skin, quick-witted and unapologetic for his actions and choices. Even Robinson feels inspired.
Following this highly appreciated and talked about character, let’s take a look at other portrayals of disability in films and series that were equally accurate and inclusive –
- The Healing Powers of Dude
“Noah, an 11-year-old boy with social anxiety disorder, has to start middle school, he turns to a dog named Dude, a sarcastic emotional support who might need Noah as much as Noah needs him.”
This family-friendly series revolves around an 11-year-old boy navigating public school for the first time to manage his social anxiety disorder. He is also supported by his best friend Amara, who uses a wheelchair due to her muscular dystrophy. The show deals with both visible and invisible disabilities in a lighthearted way. Amara is portrayed by Sophie Kim. Born with congenital muscular dystrophy and has been confined to a wheelchair since the age of four.
- The Society
“When everyone else mysteriously vanishes from their wealthy town, the teen residents of West Ham must forge their own society to survive.”
In this eerie series, a fan-favourite character is Sam – who is deaf and uses ASL to communicate with his brother and friends. He can also speak and uses lip reading to communicate with those who don’t know ASL. The show also makes use of humour to portray what life is like for them. The character is played by Sean Berdy – who is deaf in real life and has been called a “signing ninja” because of the speed with which he can sign in American Sign Language.
- The Politician
A show much applauded for its diverse characters across races, genders and identities, the show also had an excellent portrayal of disability. The dark comedy follows Payton Hobart who must become the student-body president at Saint Sebastian High School. The most refreshing concept – the school treats everyone equally. The character of Andrew Cashman, played by Ryan Haddad – who has cerebral palsy in real life – uses crutches but little attention is paid to his physicality which sets this apart from mainstream media.
- Stranger Things
This insanely popular sci-fi series follows a group of teenagers from Indiana as they discover supernatural forces, government threats, and more! One of the cast’s main characters – Dustin Henderson, has cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD), a rare genetic disorder affecting the development of the bones and teeth, but is beautifully presented as just another part of his life rather than a hindrance. Actor Gaten Matarazzo has CCD in real life, is upfront about his disorder and helps provide awareness and inspiration throughout.
This series follows a Chicago financial adviser Marty who is forced into money laundering in the Missouri Ozarks to appease a drug boss. The most favourite character on the show is Tuck – a young man with developmental disabilities who works part-time at the Blue Cat Lodge and becomes Skyler’s first friend in the Ozarks. Skyler has never treated Tuck other than who he is. Tuck is played by actor Evan George Vourazeris, who has Down Syndrome.