Push Girls Needs to Be Pushed Off Television

Even before I started watching the Sundance Channel’s Push Girls, I knew I was going to be very critical of it. I was right. I didn’t expect it to be anything I could consider “good television”. There were parts of it that I found profoundly irritating and even offensive. The reality series, revolving around four women who use wheelchairs, opened with two episodes on Monday night. The entire goal of the show seems to be to inspire a viewer to believe that they can achieve anything in life regardless of obstacles. It is a very repetitive and uninteresting message. The message starts to sound sickening when you realize that  none of the women have lives that are particularly impressive.

The tagline for the series is “If you can’t stand up, stand out.” This annoying because it tries too hard to be cute. It wouldn’t have been as bad if it was accurate for any of these women. It seems not to be. They just don’t seem that special. While their situations certainly took perseverance to overcome, it seemed that Tiphany, Angela, Mia and Auti were simply women who left me wondering why they got a show.

First off, the episodes focused way too much on sentimentality and the tragedies of the women’s situation. As with many true story narratives focusing on disability, the focus is not on the person. Rather, it is focused on their affliction. The opening scene introduces Tiphany. While saying that she does not want her wheelchair to define her, she is simultaneously telling the story of her car accident. It becomes evident that she is relying on her chair as evidence of her apparent strength as a means of validation. This seems to be precisely the opposite of not letting her wheelchair define her. Apparently she has no problem getting attention, which she attributes to the “26-inch rims on the side of [her] ass.” This is nothing more than irritating and counterintuitive.

As the episode progressed, I quickly found out this was going to be nothing more than the women showcasing their completely unfounded self-importance. We are then introduced to Auti, a former hip-hop dancer who is looking to have a baby now that she doesn’t have much time left.

Next, we meet Mia, who has been with her boyfriend for a year and a half and is struggling to make it work. She apparently doesn’t date guys in wheelchairs, which is problematic in and of itself. It is yet another example of these women’s unfounded arrogance.

Angela is introduced last. She is a former model looking to restart her career. None of these situations have proven to be special, unique, or even remotely interesting.

A plot revolves around Angela calling model agencies and struggling to get people to understand her situation. I may sound harsh here, but it is going be hard for Angela to resume her career. She is not only in a wheelchair, but she is 36 years old. It is hard for someone to resume a career after a long break. The fact is these are all completely normal concerns that are only made a little harder by her disability, At the end of the episode, she did end up at a model shoot and her wheelchair was not an overwhelming issue. She sits in front of the camera instead of standing. That’s it. Once people get past that, the only issue will be how hard it is for her to be a model. This is the same story as any other model.

Another plot revolved around someone Tiphany had been dating and their lack of communication as well as their different desires. Again, this is a completely normal issue and has nothing to do with the wheelchair.

The second episode centered around Auti entering a ballroom dance competition. Throughout the episode, she kept mentioning that the competition was all able-bodied and how she will be the only one in a wheelchair. She asks herself, “What was I thinking?” I found myself asking that very same question. No matter how much she wants to consider herself a competent dancer, it will never quite be the same. I was even more perplexed when she won the competition. She just wasn’t that great. Her spins in the chair were technically difficult, but she didn’t deserve to win.

The episode also followed Mia, who came to the realization that her boyfriend was not right for her. She wants children and her boyfriend doesn’t. The struggle of her disability has nothing to do with this problem. It happens all the time in the outside world. People break up. People have different desires in life. Just because the focus is on someone in a wheelchair does not make it worthy of a television show.

I watched this show knowing I probably wasn’t going to like it. It is not worthy of attention. People are in wheelchairs. It happens. Not everyone is special because of it. Watching it from my point of view as a wheelchair user, I can safely say I am not a “push guy.” That is annoying. The women want to emphasize equality and defining themselves by something other than their disability, but they fail at it. The only way to truly achieve that is to get them off the television.

Posted on June 5, 2012, in Cable, Reality TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Wow, my wife was paralyzed a year and a half ago and has been struggling to get through her daily routine, These girls showed her that life is still worth living and to take on challenges that otherwise she may have not given the effort. After a year and a half of feeling sorry for herself and being stuck in an electric chair we ordered a manual for her today. She is now inspired sorry you were not.

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