Glee and Lost, Paralyzed by Paralysis

First things first—credit where credit’s due. I gave up on Glee shortly before it went on hiatus, and I wouldn’t know anything about last night’s episode if TVDoneWright’s Adam Wright hadn’t written his thought-provoking post, Artie of Glee, Why the Pitiful Victim?. As a person with a physical disability, Wright approaches the episode from a unique perspective. And while he says he wasn’t offended, he points to Artie’s sudden obsession with finding a “cure” for his paralysis, and the scenes in which we’re supposed to feel sorry for Artie because he can’t dance. “Lying there, helpless, the victim,” Wright says. “Seriously? After all the struggles, all the things he’s been through, he’s just going to lay there?”

Well, no. He’s going to get a wacky dream sequence in which he gets out of his chair and does “The Safety Dance” at the mall. Characterization on Glee is rarely consistent—that’s always been my biggest issue with the show—but this new development is particularly troublesome. Sure, it makes sense that a high school kid who remembers life before his disability would long for the chance to walk again. But didn’t Glee already establish that Artie has, in many ways, adapted to his chair? More to the point, is it too much to ask for a disabled character who embraces his talents and accepts his limitations? Speaking from personal experience, Wright notes, “One of the first things we learn is to know one’s limits.”

Let’s contrast Artie with John Locke in last night’s episode of Lost, a show I actually do watch religiously. I was troubled by the fixation on Locke’s paralysis in the alternate universe. Not because this is anything new—Locke’s need to walk on his own two legs has been well established since Season 1’s “Walkabout.” Don’t tell him what he can’t do, including being bipedal. What troubled me was the way alternate universe Locke is told to “let go” and let Jack “fix” him. The implication is that freeing Locke from his paralysis will somehow set things right. (I think. You’re asking me to understand Lost? Come on.)

I don’t want to appear oversensitive or—perhaps even worse—like I’m missing the point entirely. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have a plan for >Lost, and I think it’s unlikely that Jack undoing Locke’s spinal damage is the be-all, end-all of the series. It just seemed strange, as though the inevitable surgery is what the alternate universe has been working toward all along. Locke letting go of the past, particularly his relationship with Anthony Cooper—that, I can get behind. But Locke letting go of his wheelchair—why? It seems even more irrelevant in the alternate universe, where Locke got to go on the walkabout despite his physical limitations. Take that, jerky Season 1 Australians!

Here’s the thing: I’m not going to boycott Lost, and I haven’t changed my opinion on Glee. But considering the current (embarrassing) dearth of characters with disabilities, it’s disconcerting that TV’s most notable wheelchair users spent last night fixated on a “cure.” It might not be worth an angry letter campaign, but it’s something to think about nonetheless.


Follow TV.com writer Louis Peitzman on Twitter: @LouisAtTVDotCom

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How is having disabled characters embarrassing? And how can you comment on a show you don't watch? How much do you even know about Artie's character? How can you say its wrong for a kid in high school who has lost the ability to do something he loves (dance) and continues to dream about doing it again even though deep down he knows he never will? Its painful, yes, but sometimes the painful things in life don't go away just because we say we're fine and adjust to how things change and Glee explored that this week. I can't comment on Lost, because I don't watch it, but I'm sure someone out there can defend Locke as well.
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i think they just wanted to make Kevin McHale dance. He's their best dancer (besides Heather and Harry but they're not regulars yet) and he never gets to show it. He's said in interviews that he knew what the part was and likes playing Artie as he is but when people don't know you're just acting, the question probably gets tired.
Now he knows and the storyline will probably never come up again (although if it did I wouldnt complain. i love watching Kevin dance) so maybe now they can focus on normal problems for Artie instead of disability problems only.
That said, i thoroughly enjoyed Glee on Tuesday
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Over thinking is not a good idea when it concerns Lost :D
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You should write for the British tabloids with that knack for making something out of nothing! Pointless article.
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I think the point of Locke "letting go" is to let go of his guilt, which is why he is punishing himself by remaining in a wheelchair instead of doing something about it. From a normal person's standpoint. From the standpoint of a crazy-wacky-alternate-timeline scenario, he needs to "let go" of the reality he's in and embrace the "true" reality.. I guess. We don't really know what the alt timeline is all about. The last conversation Locke and Jack had sort of leaned towards Locke believing in a higher purpose (which he did for the entirety of the show) while Jack remained the "fix-it" man which he was for the majority of the show. Perhaps it's just a clever parallel between Jack's old self and his 6 season self.
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Wow. You sound like a little kid whining. Really? You're going to talk about a show that you don't even watch? Those of us who do watch it know that Artie was not the victim in the last episode. His characterization did not change. He was being pushed by outside forces that made him think about things in the episode differently.
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The alt-timeline in Lost is about the characters having some form of redemption compared to their island-timeline counterparts. Jack was always trying to "fix things" because his life is in disarray, but alt-Jack has life together and doesn't need to "fix" everything. Sawyer is a con-man who was torn apart by the results of the long con of his parents, alt-Sawyer became a cop instead and is trying to find Anthony Cooper that way. Sayid was wracked with guilt over having tortured countless people and having lost Nadia, alt-Sayid has Nadia but can't be with her because she's married to his brother. Ben is torn apart over the loss of Alex, but alt-Ben was able to help Alex and eventually might have formed a family with Alex and Danielle. Locke was always struggling with the ramifications of what his father did to him, but alt-Locke is now struggling with the ramifications of what he did to his father, and by letting Jack "fix him", he's able to let go of his grief in a way his island-timeline counterpart never could. The point of Locke agreeing to the surgery is that he's finally able to offload the emotional baggage he's been carrying.
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I think the Artie storyline was great! Even though he probably will never get out of the chair, I couldn't help but wish he could. I sorta got my wish, he got to dance! If you gave up watching glee in the beginning, how would you know he has accepted the whole wheelchair thing? I never thought he had
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I also don't agree with you... Or with Adam Wright for that matter.
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as per MidgardDragon99.
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Yes, you are being oversensitive.
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I agree with lindigj I got the impression that Locke was lying. And I don't see why Arties storyline offended anyone, he didn't seem like a victim, just like he was struggling a bit now he has a girlfriend.
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They need to fix alt-locke because being able to walk again was the most important thing that has happened to him in the real lost timeline thus he will have an epiphany and "remember" what happened in the other timeline. It has nothing to do with obsessing about a cure. :P
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The snide remark that it sounds like your typical 13 year old wrote this from a poster is ironic considering that the same can be said about that post or the one where the writer is called a fool. The writer is not whining about Glee and Lost, they are expressing their opinion.
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I would like to ask the writer of this article what is he SO uptight about? I am a person with a disability. I know what Artie is feeling. Besides, he is also 16 years old, he just wants to be with his friends and what he hopes to be his girl friend. Why should'nt he dream of walking and dancing? EVERYONE, AND AND I MEAN EVERYONE, should have something to dream about. It gives you hope...this writer is a fool.
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Lol, pretty funny that the writer thought Locke went on his walkabout in the alternate reality.... in a wheelchair. OBVIOUSLY he was lying to Boone. He had to be carried off the plane and you think he went on a _WALK_about???
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I think it was a pretty realistic episode. Just because Artie is resigned to the fact he cannot walk again doesn't mean its not something he wants. The point of the episode was dreams... ones that may come true or one's that may not. I have a very good friend in a wheelchair.. she has been in it her whole life. She knows she will never walk and doesn't let it effect her day, but its still a challenge she faces 20 years later. She told me once in her dreams she can always walk. You can't just say "oh he's 16, and knows logically he will never walk again. That means he shouldn't dream about one day being able to." And in terms of people who think he should be happy for the talent he has.. he is, but again the episode was about the children's dreams. Why wouldn't a guy who loves singing and musicals being in the Glee club not want to do the one thing his body is preventing him from doing? How can he not miss out on that experience when he is surrounded by people doing it all? Who says dreams have to be rational?
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As a wheelchair user myself, I find it disappointing that Artie thinks he can't dance. He may not be able to dance the same way as others, but he can definitely dance... I certainly do and love every minute of it. It absolutely is realistic for someone his age to wish he was like all of his friends and not so noticeably different... that's not just part of being disabled, that's part of growing up in general. But at that age is also when you come to really know and accept but work with your limitations, not fight them.
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Whine about Glee? Check. Whine about Lost? Check. Total inability to realize character development and instead chalking it up to being out of character? Check. Sounds like your typical 13 year old wrote this.
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I agree with many of the others about Artie's' realistic rebellion on Glee! He's a musically inclined 16 year old who has a new (also musically inclined) girlfriend, and he wants to not only dance with her but for her and becuase of her. There was nothing wrong with Artie's story line, and I for one absolutely enjoyed getting to see him dance (finally)!!! I hope they find a way to stick a few more dream-dance scenes in for him. Artie's mall rock was my favorite performance of the night. I also got a kick out of seeing the biggest (heaviest) member of ABDC's Heavy Impact front and (off) center in the routine.
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I think Artie being totally cool with it was what was unrealistic. "Oh, hey, I'm 16 years old and I'll never walk again, s'all good." Yeah, no. This gave him more of a character, especially with his relationship with Tina.
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it's upsetting one of the best dancers out there is stuck in a wheelchair :-(
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SO glad the annoying Zoey (I call her Tina Fey) was offed last night.
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Locke never went on his walkabout in either timeline. The alt universe had MUCH more going on than Locke's minor wheelchair backstory.
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Last night's episode about Lost was much more than simply Locke getting out of the chair.
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Locke did not go on his walkabout in the alternate time line. He lied to Boone. He mentions that the walkabout agency didn't let him go in the episode "The Substitute" and that he just sat there telling the walkabout guy not to tell him what to do.
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For crying out loud, he's a 16 yo kid on a wheelchair. I for one was happy to see any kind of rebellion and even a bit of anger. Some sign that he's indeed dealing with this, something realistic. And yes, daydreaming about dancing when your a musical kid who can't walk does sound realistic to me. Adapted or not, you can't possibly ask a teenager to be okay with any kind of disability without a process involved. And if, in my humble opinion, if you say otherwise your just patronizing the struggle.
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There was way more to LOST last night than Locke getting out of his wheelchair. A. Locke was more fixated on the fact that they were all meeting up being fate. B. Desmond epicness, Ben manipulation, Richard pummeling, Jack leading, Miles hilarity, Widmore bam bam, Zoey lol. None of this got to you last night?
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it seems like Glee is running out of things to talk about. This is now the second time they've had a character come to terms with who they are and start accepting themselves, only to offer us another episode where they dream of being someone else again. I think last week it was Kurt, this week it's Artie. It's all boring and frustrating.

excellent point though, i think glee and lost are on at the exact same time, it's interesting that they both dealt with something so similar.
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