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Movie Mom

Push Girls — New on Sundance Channel

posted by Nell Minow

I am delighted with the new Sundance Channel series, “Push Girls,” a reality series about a group of vibrant, active, bright friends, all women in wheelchairs.

The New York Times says the theme of the show is not disability; it’s friendship.

[I]t’s four girlfriends juggling dating and babies and careers. Their lives are interesting, with a dramatic twist.”

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That angle — young women just trying to figure it all out — was ultimately what sold Ms. Barnett. “I never thought, ‘Oh, we need to make a show about disability,’ ” she said. Rather: “There are so many shows in the scripted world about female friendship that I feel are finally accurate. But I didn’t see many in the unscripted space.”

It’s worth noting that unlike the tense casts of, say, Bravo’s “Real Housewives” series, the women on “Push Girls” are genuinely friends, not acquaintances hurriedly bundled together before shooting began. Ms. Rockwood met Ms. Angel at a rehab facility just days after Ms. Rockwood’s accident. Three years later she encountered Ms. Schaikewitz in an acting class. Ms. Rockwood has known Ms. Adams for four years; Ms. Rockwood invited her to go with the group to a concert shortly after Ms. Adams moved to the area. “She never thought she would have BFFs in wheelchairs,” Ms. Rockwood said.

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Disabled people are usually omitted entirely from television in movies, unless they are portrayed as people defined only by their disability whose role is just to be inspiring.  These women are inspiring not by being saint-like but by being fully themselves, supporting each other and living their lives.  As the late Christopher Reeve, whose foundation supports this series, said in the title of his memoir, the most important thing to know about what happened after his injury is that he was Still Me.

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