Last April 12, two Netflix Originals came out at the same time: The Perfect Date, a rom-com film starring Noah Centineo, and Special, a comedy series starring breakout actor Ryan O’Connell. If you’re hearing about the latter for the first time, we don’t blame you because it wasn’t advertised as much.
Special is an adaptation of Ryan O’Connell’s memoir. It tells the story of how he lied about having cerebral palsy, as well as his struggles as a gay man with a disability. It’s a heartwarming series that tackles topics on self-love and finding one’s strength in a rather difficult situation—you can find all this in every 15-minute episode.
That said, netizens accused Netflix of not putting Special on the homepage, claiming they’re “boycotting their own shows” when it has representation. There’s no solid proof of that, but obviously, they’re pertaining to Netflix cancelling Sense8, which was another hit series with a diverse cast.
the first season of special came out today, and I had to search it cause it wasn't on the home page, in the "new stuff" or anything
NETFLIX STOP BOYCOTTING YOUR OWN SHOWS WHEN THEY BRING REPRESENTATION
— 𝐣𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐡𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐚𝐜𝐜 (@cobainoddity) April 12, 2019
I’ve seen The Perfect Date too and loved it—but Special deserves as much attention. It has so much potential and it deserves a second season to tell more of Ryan’s story. If you haven’t seen it yet, here are spoiler-free pointers to summarize some of my thoughts while watching Special.
People with disabilities shouldn’t be looked down on
In 2015, Ryan did an interview with As/Is where he talks about his insecurities as a gay man who has a limp and scars caused by his cerebral palsy. He also emphasized how he’s totally fine despite his disability. I mean, he did write a book called I’m Special and Other Lies We Tell Ourselves, and later kickstarted his acting career.
Special shows dramatizations of how Ryan was judged by people who didn’t understand why he was limping. Also how his mom couldn’t let him be independent because of his disability. It’s quite eye-opening for able-bodied people who look at PWDs like Ryan and instantly think they’re pitiful.
We all deserve a friend like Kim
Kim (Punam Patel) is Ryan’s “work wife” in Eggwoke (the fictional name of Thought Catalog in the show). She is one of the most confident people in the office who acknowledges her successes and embraces her body. We feel like she’s the type of person who’d flip off society that says plus-sized women of color won’t amount to anything. This is also why Kim is one of the people who helps Ryan in his journey of accepting himself.
Olivia is a b*tch
Olivia (Marla Mindelle) is the boss of Eggwoke. I can go on and on about how insensitive and narcissistic she is, but calling her a b*tch is enough for now. Let’s just leave it at that.
I can’t believe Eggwoke is actually Thought Catalog
I actually Googled if Eggwoke was a legit site. Then I found out Ryan actually worked for Thought Catalog, which makes sense since Eggwoke also publishes confessionals and listicles. If the dramatization on Special was accurate, including how Olivia would treat the staff, then I’m going to judge Thought Catalog hard.
Help is always appreciated
Aside from accepting who he is, Ryan also learns how to be independent and active in the dating scene. There are times you’ll see how he’s rushing into things and refusing to get help from the people around him. But when he does allow assistance, things go in the right direction.
Love is for everyone
This is a cheesy pointer but, as Ryan said in his As/Is interview, he was scared that no one would love him because of his disability. Well, I’m telling you now that Special is going to make you feel so many emotions across all eight of its episodes.
Photos courtesy of Netflix
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