Advocates for the Disabled Speak Out Against Glee's Wheelchair Episode


In Wednesday's episode of Glee, the glee club members spend time in wheelchairs to get a feel for what their pal Artie (Kevin McHale) does on a daily basis. The story line has caught the attention of actors with disabilities and their advocates, according to The Associated Press.


Advocates see the casting of McHale, who is not disabled, as a lost chance for someone with an actual disability to get the role.


"I think there's a fear of litigation, that a person with disabilities might slow a production down, fear that viewers might be uncomfortable," Robert David Hall (CSI) told AP. "I've made my living as an actor for 30 years and I walk on two artificial legs."


Hall is among several actors with disabilities currently on TV, including Daryl "Chill" Mitchell (Brothers), RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad) and Michael Patrick Thornton (Private Practice).


Brad Falchuk, Glee's executive producer, notes that they did attempt to bring diversity to the Fox series. "We brought in anyone: white, black, Asian, in a wheelchair. It was very hard to find people who could really sing, really act, and have that charisma you need on TV," he told the AP.


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Nov 11, 2009 3:28PM EST

Maybe true blondes should protest cos there are so many actors on tv that have dyed their hair blonde.

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Nov 11, 2009 5:53PM EST

I can understand the frustrations of the Disabled actors community, I'm sure there have been many times where people who have been perfect for a role have been turned down because the cost their disability may have on production....but if an able bodied person is better for the role surely not giving him it because he's not disabled is discrimination.... I thinnk it's cruel for the DAC to suggest McHale is some how undeserving because he can walk... would it be better if a less talented singer/actor who was disabled got the part?

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Nov 11, 2009 11:35PM EST

I get what you guys are saying about reverse discrimination, but lets be realistic. Do you think the auditioned white actors for the new Nelson Mandela bio pic? There are plenty of performers out there in wheelchairs that I am sure if they had taken the time they could have found one that was good enough.

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Nov 12, 2009 12:48AM EST

I think they did nothing wrong. If the opportunity had arisen to hire a disabled actor who was right for the part and they had decided not to because of the disability then that would have been wrong. How often do you seen actors portraying characters with mental health issues like schizophrenia or manic depression who have not got the condition or even any real experience of these kinds of things.
It would be impractical to chastise people for hiring or not hiring based on race, disability et al. discrimination will only end when you see the person not the role! This works both ways tho! :)

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Nov 12, 2009 2:49AM EST

I agree with the several of these comments. The part should go to the person who can do it the best, disability or no. If McHale can sing the best and spin around the best in a wheelchair, then he deserved the part.So far I think the show has done a lovely job of representing respectfully a whole variety of students. I really don't think that these people have anything to complain about.

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