Tonight the Sundance Channel will introduce audiences to Push Girls, a new reality series following five women living with paralysis. Though all five are wheelchair bound, the show demonstrates their lives are just as full and complicated as anyone’s, and includes a woman named Tiphany who dates both men and women.
Before their accident or medical condition put them in a wheelchair, these five women were pursuing their dreams. Angela was modeling, Auti was a professional dancer, Mia was on her high school swim team while Tiphany and Chelsie were getting ready to graduate. In the series we will see them continue to pursue their dream without letting their disability get in their way. Angela will try to break into the modeling world once again, while Auti continues to dance and recently stared in the trans-inclusive film Musical Chairs alongside transgender actress Laverne Cox. Mia will get back in the pool for the first time in 17 years, Chelsie learns how to live life in a wheelchair under the mentorship of the other girls as she starts college, and Tiphany will begin dating life anew in Los Angeles after ending a long term relationship.
Last September, GLAAD in conjunction with the Tri-Union I AM PWD campaign of Actor’s Equity Association from SAG-AFTRA conducted a count of people with disabilities (PWD) among scripted television series regular characters and found that less than 1% of series regulars on broadcast networks are depicted as living with a disability covered under the American Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2008, the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau found that 12% of U.S. citizens reported living with an apparent disability. The only LGBT character with a disability currently on television is Thor Lundgren of Nurse Jackie who is diabetic and has a prosthetic eye.
While Push Girls is not a scripted television series, some of the only images of people living in a wheelchair on television come from Glee which features the paraplegic high school student Artie Abrams. By showcasing these five inspiring women and sharing their stories, Sundance’s Push Girls will not only increase diversity on television but also help remove stigmas many viewers may have about life in a wheelchair.
Push Girls premieres tonight at 10:00pm on the Sundance Channel.