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Disability in TV Drama

There are various stereotypes attached to disability these are some of them:
Pitiable or pathetic: This is one of the most widely used stereotypes, this
stereotype is brought about when disabled people are faced with difculty,
prejudice or other things, this causes them to be given pity. This stereotype is ver
popular amongst TV drama producers as it is very easy to recreate due to the
fact that we already, naturally feel sorry for disabled people facing difculty.
Object of curiosity or violence: This stereotype is when disabled people are
presented as different or unusual. This occurs when someones disability is
presented as something that we should be looking at and in effect concentrating
on. This stereotype is commonly used to give the overall effect that disabled and
more able people are different.
The Super Cripple: This stereotype is used when there is a disabled person
that is in a position of admiration despite having their disability, many people see
this as patronising as they are admired more for having a disability than for their
actual achievement. This is common in the parolympics.
Laughable/Humor: This is when disabled people are used for humour
purposes, this is due to the fact that some people may nd pleasure in the
misfortune of others. It is worth noting that the disabled have been used as a
source of humour since the ancient greeks.
Sinister or Evil: In many scenarios it is easy to perceive a disabled persons
actions to be evil as people may not fully understand their condition, for this
reason it is often used in TV drama as a shortcut, an easy option if you will to
drive at the desired evil or sinister effect.
Burden/Unable to participate in ordinary life: It can often be perceived that
disabled people are a burden to the people that care for them, this is used a lot in
TV drama. This stereotype often makes disabled people angry and sometimes
depressed if they believe that this stereotype is true, as it makes them feel bad
and as if its their fault.
Non Sexual: This is a stereotype whereby disabled people are portrayed as non
Example of some of these stereotypes in a TV drama:
Izzy from Coronation Street: She is a now single mother that has a disability
that prevents her from walking, due to this she is in a
wheelchair, various of the above stereotypes are used
in the way she is portrayed. An example of this is the
way she is often presented as pitiable or pathetic
through situations she is going through, which in line
with Paul Hunts stereotype area makes the viewer feel
sorry for her. She does not however, t in with all of the
areas for example her disability isn't used for humor
purposes, and she is relative self dependent. Thus not
tting in with the stereotype that disabled people are a
How disability is presented in TV drama through the 4 areas of textual analysis
Camera Shots: These can be used to establish power through different angles
and shot types for example a popular shot is where there are two characters and
when the disabled person is in the shot it pints down at them, this presents them
as having less power than the more able person in the scene.
Sound: Different sounds can be used to give effect to the desired representation
for example silence can make a situation sound awkward, thus making the viewer
feel sorry for the disabled person.
Editing: Editing can also be used to emphasise the situation presentation, for
example quick cut scenes can represent an awkward situation and longer
segments with smother transitions can be used to represent comfortable
situations, this is useful in representing disabled people as a lot of the time the
situations are awkward.
Mise-en-Scne: Disabled people can be represented as unusual, trying to t in
or just normal via this aspect through a variety of different ways e.g. clothes, set
lighting, decor, etc
How gender disability links to the other 6 areas of representation (positively and
Age: I think that disability doesn't really have that much of an effect on age as
people of all ages can be disabled, i think that what it may have some effect on
however, is how these people from different age groups are represented. For
example a young disabled person may be represented differently to an old one.
Ethnicity: As with age, the effect that disability has on ethnicity is a small one as it
docent really matter, this means that the impact is neither positive or negative. it is
Sexuality: disability doesnt have an effect on sexuality in modern society as
people are portrayed as able to be attracted to either sex, for example men can
be attracted to either men, women or in some cases both, this is the same for
women as well. As with ethnicity TV shows make sure to include people of all
different types of sexuality as not only does it add another dimension to some
storylines it also makes sure nobody is offended/feels left out. This is nor a
negative or positive impact it is neutral.
Class and Status: The effect that disability has on class and status is profound,
as generally disabled people are presented as having a lower social status and a
lot of the time being part of one of the lesser classes. This is largely down to the
fact that it is often stereotyped that disabled people are not part of normal society
and cant have well paid jobs. One TV drama that went against this stereotype is
Coronation Street, who opted for a disabled man as one of Underworlds bigger
Gender: I don't personally think that gender has much of an effect on disability
and vice versa as both males and females can be disabled. What can differ
however is that the effects that being disabled can have on a woman that is single
with a child can be more profound than a male, this however can be argued
against due to the fact that sometimes males may have more pride and need to
Regional identity: As with some of the others, disability does not have a great
effect on regional identity, although when referring to mental disabilities, they are
often presented on people from lesser regions and not from higher class areas.