The Deep End
Blind Deaf Date
In an endless sea of moody dramas, superhero action and crime thrillers, semi-autobiographical comedy Special feels like a breath of fresh air. With a tone very similar to that of Atypical and an accurate portrayal of cerebral palsy, Special is a well written, charming little comedy, one as funny as it is heartwarming.
The story revolves around Ryan, a young, gay man with cerebral palsy. Nervous about his first day at work as an intern, Ryan does his best to hide his condition from everyone, including new friend Kim and his boss Olivia. As the episodes progress and more of Ryan’s life is revealed, his confliction over whether to tell everyone the truth begins to consume him. It contrasts beautifully with his tumultuous time at home too as Ryan grows in confidence and decides to move out on his own. All of this builds up to a finale that leaves things wide open going forward yet works quite well as a stand alone season finale, with Ryan’s character arc progressing and his persona becoming more confident as the episodes tick by.
With 8 episodes all clocking in at around 15 minutes or so, Special is a very easy and binge-able watch. The episodes are the perfect length too, with an overarching story about Ryan’s trials and tribulation with his disability and sexuality explored throughout. Each individual episode has its own plot and whether it be Olivia’s birthday party or Ryan attending a poker night, each of these situations are designed to really push Ryan’s character forward.
Ryan is certainly the star of the show though and the scenes he features in are by far the best. Aside from Kim, Olivia and Ryan’s Mum Karen, the supporting cast don’t add an awful lot to this series. Olivia’s hilariously dry wit and brutal observational comedy works really well alongside Ryan’s physical humour. Kim’s confidence in her body and Karen’s fear of being alone all act as reflections of Ryan’s hidden fears or aspirations. It’s subtle but it is noticeable enough to really add some dimension to this comedy.
While Special may be a little basic on the surface, the much-needed representation of cerebral palsy make this a comedy well worth checking out. Ryan’s fear of telling people about his condition and branching out from his over-protective Mum really rings true for a lot of issues this condition brings with it. It’s beautifully handled for the most part and not once does the show feel contrived or agenda-driven. With easy-to-digest episodes and a feel-good factor running throughout, Special is an easy comedy to blast through. While I personally still prefer Atypical’s comedy and familial drama, there’s enough here to almost match that one blow for blow, which should be reason enough to give this one a go.