Thinking About Sarah Palin, Family Guy, Down Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder

Thinking About Sarah Palin, Family Guy, Down Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder

Everybody knows about the Sarah Palin versus Family Guy debate. How could mean, old Fox TV say anything bad about poor Trigg, who has Down Syndrome? Even worse, how could they defame his mother, the most righteous of the right in all of “Real America”?

Watch the clip and see what you think.



Sarah and Bristol are of course fighting back.

The ironic thing about the whole debate is that the actress doesn’t even care, even though she herself has Down Syndrome. In fact, Andrea Friedman, who thinks that the episode is funny claims that her parents taught her to have a sense of humor and to be a working member of society.

In part: "I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' was very funny. I think the word is 'sarcasm'."

Additionally, I think it says something about “The Family Guy” that they chose to hire an actual woman with Down Syndrome to portray a character with Down Syndrome on the show.

On another site devoted to disabilities, the writer cited a quote from a spokesman for the Down’s Syndrome Association of Los Angeles, who basically said that while he wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the episode, he believed that “if we’re asking for full inclusion in schools and full inclusion in the world, we should appreciate full inclusion in other genres, even if they’re not appropriate.”

To me, this debate also goes back to people with other disabilities as well, including of course, Bipolar Disorder.  Fortunately, I can’t think of any popular TV episodes recently that included a Bipolar patient, but I have heard more than one joke in my time and there have been a few movies showing the mentally ill in unflattering lights. When I first started going to group therapy for Bipolar Disorder in the 90’s, my boss at the time asked me if I was going with, “Me, myself, and I”. I just shrugged it off, the same way I did when I saw “Me, Myself, and Irene” a few years later.

Like Andrea Friedman, my parents taught me to have a sense of humor about everything, and as soon as I was diagnosed in early adulthood, taught me not to be afraid of my diagnosis. I am aware that jokes like these are not helpful for eliminating the stigma of Bipolar Disorder, but I think the best way to get rid of the stigma is to show people that we are people, too and that they do not have to live in fear of the mentally ill.