Disability in Pop Culture 9—Glee
November 12, 2009
Glee (9pm Wednesdays on FOX) is a musical comedy about a high school glee club. It has a sortof Freaks and Geeks vibe about it in that it talks about the divide and also the overlaps between jock and nerd cliques.One of the members of the Glee Club from the beginning has been Artie.
It has a rather large ensemble cast, so up to this point Artie hasn’t really had an episode yet. Last night it was his turn. The school will only provide a standard bus for the club to go to a competition and the club needs to raise the money to rent a wheelchair-accessible bus
As a bonus, there was a subplot about the evil cheerleading coach allowing a girl with Down Syndrome onto the cheerleading squad. (Also, damn the writers for making the villain of the show into a sympathetic character!) Yes, she has a sympathetic moment even after earlier in the episode she gives a hilariously incomprehensible speech about how wheelchair ramps encourage laziness in the ablebodied students by giving them a way to avoid the stairs.
All is not perfect, however. While the two characters in the show with Down syndrome are played by actors with Down syndrome, Kevin McHale can actually walk just fine. This has not gone unnoticed by the community of actors with disabilities (or their audience).