Youtube/My Gimpy Life
My Gimpy Life is a nine-episode, comedy web series created by Teal Sherer, written by Gabe Uhr and directed by Sean Becker that aired on Youtube between July 2012 and May 2014. Sherer, who is paraplegic, stars in the series as a somewhat fictionalized version of herself; a disabled actress trying to build her career in Hollywood while dealing with the everyday challenges of life in a wheelchair, as well as some more unusual challenges like an adversary turned unpredictable friend, a clueless, uncouth roommate with an aversion to wearing pants, a boyfriend with an unusual interest in her wheelchair and a role in an ill-conceived commercial that comes back to haunt her, but also leads to potentially costly opportunity. In addition to the series, there's also a companion podcast that features discussions of each episode and interviews with the cast and crew. Inspired by Felicia Day, who has a recurring role in the series, Sherer created My Gimpy Life as a reaction to the lack of representation of disabled people in the media and the series has been featured by the New York Times, NPR and the BBC, as well as a number of disability-related publications. It's also netted Sherer an International Academy of Web Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance and is now being included in many higher education curriculums.
I use a wheelchair and one of the things that I've always loved about My Gimpy Life is how much I can relate to so many of the situations that Teal finds herself in and I don't mean the ridiculously exaggerated ones like the bizarre commercial or her oddly-attached boyfriend. Those parts of the story could certainly have been based on actual events and, to be honest, I can kind of relate to the latter of the two, but I'm referring to the more mundane struggles that she faces throughout the series such as watching her wheelchair roll away from her car just as she's about to transfer into it or being asked by a complete stranger if she's capable of having sex or trying to make her way through a crowded restaurant and not being able to avoid continually bumping into chairs and tables or being told that she's inspirational solely because she's disabled. I've lived some variation of all of these situations, most on multiple occasions, but the first and to date only time that I've ever seen them honestly and accurately reflected in fiction was in My Gimpy Life. Along similar lines, I also love how realistically the disabled characters in the series are presented. None of them are portrayed as helpless victims or objectified as inspirations, a trope that's overtly mocked in episode three, they're just regular, flawed people. The series even ends with Teal making a very questionable decision which, admittedly, does feel like a bit of a cliffhanger, but I really like that it ends on such a dark turn. At a time when there's so little sincere representation of disabled people in the mainstream media, especially in lead roles, I can't overstate how validating it is to see us portrayed in such a normalizing fashion. My Gimpy Life is not only a great series, but I think that it's also a very important one and I really can't recommend it strenuously enough.
If there's a movie, recording artist, anime, podcast or any other media that you'd like me to check out for possible inclusion on the rec list, please contact me and let me know about it.