It’s Okay to Laugh at People in Wheelchairs
There is not a single regular character on a single sitcom that I can think of that is in a wheelchair, unless you count “Timmy” from “South Park” which I hate to even comment on, or “Joe” from “The Family Guy” which is a cartoon. Though it is great that they made this character a police officer, there is one very cartoonish episode where Joe says he “feels useless” and decides he’d like to be able to walk so he gets a leg transplant. After the successful surgery, he decides that he only hung around with his current friends because they were lazy and he was in a wheelchair. There are so many things wrong with this entire premise, I don’t know where to start. Anyway he moves on to another group of friends, and he gets a big head about it, and his old friends, and his wife get jealous and she shoots him in until he is disabled again. The only good thing about this episode is that he learns that his life was fine the way it was.
I’m not sure if it is, again, the image that people in wheelchairs take themselves too seriously that keeps writers from putting a disabled character in a sitcom, but I would love it. Not so their would be a forum to make lame jokes about how stupid and closed-minded the able-bodied people are, not to depict the disabled as heroic survivors, and not so I can finally have a sitcom that I can relate to.
I can relate to plenty of them already and I would hope that my hypothetical disabled character would be one that the masses would relate to. That’s what sitcoms are, a little slice of life that pretty much anyone can relate to. We all have plenty of reasons to laugh at ourselves, after all. Yup, just a slice of life, and I want my slice on primetime TV, by God! The character would have to be written by a disabled person, I think, but only to avoid the potential mistakes I listed in the second paragraph. And it would have to be natural, not trying too hard to show that the character is “just like everyone else” but just there, and funny.