"Special" debuted on Netflix with very little fanfare on April 12 and tells the story about a gay man, Ryan Hayes(Ryan O'Connell) with a mild case of cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity after being hit by a car.
When it comes to LGBTQI+ representation Netflix has produced groundbreaking shows such as "Sense 8" and other shows with prominent queer characters such as "The OA" and "Orange Is The New Black". And a large portion of LGBTQI+ characters currently on television screens, a large number of them are being played by queer actors.
However, when it comes to disabled people on our TV screens there has been little representation and when they have been in shows they're often played by able-bodied actors.
Ryan O'Connell not only acts but also wrote and executive produced the show and has cerebral palsy.
By O'Connell being involved in various aspects of the show, it really gives a realist take of someone disabled navigating the world without it being a sad story. The fact the Hayes is also a gay man adds another layer to Special. And having a show not revolve about a cisgender white muscled gay man is extremely refreshing.
The fact that O'Connell chooses to use a comedic approach to the story, which is loosely based on his own life, gives the viewers an opportunity to laugh with Hayes and the situations he deals with. O’Connell also approaches queer sex is a very approachable and realistic manner. And there is a very sincere moment that happens during the moment Hayes loses his virginity. This really is one of the first series to really showcase the intersectionality of a gay disabled man and these are the types of stories we need more off.
The support characters around Hayes are a tad on the caricature side but it adds to the overall humour of the show. Special further explorers gay relationships and the season finale hints at a possible open relationship with our lead and his love interest.
Season one is only eight episodes and has a 15-minute runtime for each episode. Therefore, it’s a quick binge watch and worth the time. You simultaneously get an entertaining show and a look into the life of a non-stereotypical gay man who happens to be disabled.