Growing Up Fisher

Living with a disability in America means that I’m well aware of being in a minority group and being sensitive to how said minority group is portrayed in the public. I can only speak for myself.

Context maps where we stand. If I was born in the 1800s instead of the 1900s, I probably would’ve died at birth. If I lived, I would’ve been visually impaired, leading to full blindness as a young adult. As a person with a visual impairment, I would’ve been a burden, someone to institutionalize–there was no hope for me. Centuries of tradition would mark my blindness as a curse for something me or my family had committed. I would be marginalized.

With the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, widespread changes started in America, but like most legislation, it doesn’t magically cure the problems it tries to address. My ignorance about living and working with a disability hit that home to me a few years ago as I began navigating the world of state agencies and employment laws and the lack of public awareness to overcome stereotypes about people with disabilities. We haven’t reached that Utopia, that world designed with everyone in mind no matter what they look like, how they feel, or how much money they have, but I can dream, and so can you.

Ok. Have you seen Growing Up Fisher? It’s a TV show that premiered this year. NBC airs the family comedy on Tuesdays at 9:30. I watch it regularly. I like the show for the things it doesn’t do. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. It doesn’t exploit women or violence for ratings. It doesn’t speak for all families; instead it tells the story of one family in the midst of a divorce with two kids and a narrator looking back on his childhood like Kevin in The Wonder Years. It doesn’t feature the dad as someone who is a superhero or a charity case, but rather he’s a contributing member of society who loves his family and who happens to be blind.

Sure, I can nitpick and ask why isn’t an actor who is blind playing the dad in Growing Up Fisher. But, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to casting for network television. I do know that the creator of the show, DJ Nash, based the show on his childhood and his father, who is indeed blind, has enjoyed the show.

If you step back for a minute, what the people on Growing Up Fisher are doing is acting. When Meryl Streep pretends to be a bakery owner or a nun we don’t insist that her background includes experience with either, we want her portrayal to be believable and entertaining. Streep isn’t applying to be my accountant without a high school diploma. My accountant must have the proper education and experience to manage my money. What my accountant looks like or what her political affiliations are or what her sexual orientation is bears no merit.

What I want from TV is to see as much diversity as possible and be entertained and educated by the program, not see stereotypes. Everyone likes seeing people like themselves. We come in all shapes and statuses. I don’t want to be known for my disability any more than I’m a wife, a writer, a friend, or any role I claim. There are endless options to portray on TV without indulging stereotypes, which never entertain, but demean and limit the people portrayed. Growing Up Fisher–with a diverse cast and layered plots–is an example of a show striving to falsify stereotypes.

What I want from Growing Up Fisher–as a person with a visual impairment, as someone who likes to laugh, as a women, etc–is to watch a family comedy which happens to feature a guy who is blind. It has done that so far with the family dynamics and work issues and social situations it delves into every episode. It’s one way to raise public awareness and dissolve misconceptions about people with disabilities. I look forward to watching more as I tune in on Tuesdays.

Have you watched Growing Up Fisher? What do you think? If not, check it out and let me know what you think. Leave a comment or find me on twitter @adventuresinlv

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. I faithfully watch “Growing up Fisher” every Tuesday. To be honest, I think its a great show because in a sense it shows and proves that people who are blind, visually impaired, or suffer from disabilities can still live and interact within society as a human being rather than a statistic. I think it is about time that we are no longer shunned away in society.

    1. herheadache says:

      I have seen one episode. I hope to see it again because I do enjoy it. Did you ever see the show about the blind cop? It was on ten years ago or so, but only for one season and then it was canceled. I really hope this show takes off. I was upset that Michael J. Fox’s show on NBC was cancelled. I don’t like to think this way, but I feel people didn’t like to see him and his disability so readily obvious on television. It’s a shame.

      1. No, I have not. I did not know they had a show about that. Seems like it may have been interesting. Society is not yet open or better yet able to accept how people with disabilities live. They feel as if it should be a private matter that is never really talked about or publicized.

        I hope they pick up another season for the show, because it truly is amazing.

      2. herheadache says:

        Yes. We are living in a fairly enlightened time, but we still have miles to go before we sleep.

    2. Thanks for letting me know you watch and enjoy Fisher, too!

  2. herheadache says:

    Would either of you be willing to participate in a blog hop I am doing. Another blind blogger invited me and I am looking for three more bloggers. He and I both agree it would be nice to bring some awareness to issues of low vision and finding bloggers who could speak on these issues. If either one of you are at all interested, I can send you more info. thanks.

    1. Blog hop? That’s new to me. Please send more info thru the {Contact Me} section on my {About Me} page.

  3. Trisha says:

    I haven’t seen Growing Up Fischer. I’ll have to tune in tomorrow night.

    1. Sounds good Trisha. Let me know if your kids would like Henry and Runyen.

    2. Hope it comes to UK television soon. Sounds interesting.

      1. I hope so, too, Bridget.

  4. Absolutely adore your thoughts here, so very much! I haven’t heard of this tv show, I will have to see if we get it here.

    1. Thanks, Lucent! I hope they send the show to AUS.

  5. Natalie says:

    I agree, it’s definitely not perfect and one could nitpick… but it is exponentially better than the normal portrayals of disability in television (think MDA telethon ickiness). Plus I just love watching well-trained dogs doing their jobs well, whether that’s being a service dog or an acting dog portraying a service dog!

    1. Well said, Natalie. I like watching Elvis/Peyton, too.

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