by Justin Stark
If you are in the SCI community, you probably have seen or heard about Push Girls by now. Push Girls is a reality show on the Sundance channel that follows four women who have all sustained a spinal cord injury. I’ve watched the first 4 episodes in the 14-part series and have mixed reviews.
I think they did a decent job in getting a diverse cast from a SCI perspective. Three of the women are paraplegics and one woman is a C-5 quadriplegic. They have been injured for varied lengths of time and each are in different stages of life. Thus far, I think they have started tackling some of the big issues facing someone with a SCI. One of the women is a quadriplegic recently separated from her husband and trying to live more independently, another who has a strained relationship with her parent because of the injury, a third women is trying to get pregnant, and the last Push Girl is struggling with relationships. The show does a good job of delving into the physical limitations as well as the emotional aspects a person living with a spinal cord injury faces.
Now for the negatives. Let me start by saying that this definitely fits the reality show template. The show has its share of bad acting and contrived situations. Having been a long time wheelchair user, I feel confident saying that I think the women go overboard in trying to show how “independent” they are. I completely understand wanting to do things without assistance, but there is a point where that stubbornness becomes absurd and counterproductive. An example of this is when one of the women buying a large cake turns down help carrying it, opting instead to push to her car with it on her lap. The cake almost fell off her lap with every push and I would bet that was a performance for the camera and not something she would normally do. Another unrealistic storyline involves one of the women entering a dancing competition with only a few days to practice and as expected, winning the competition. Maybe I’m too cynical, but how could a wheelchair user being filmed for a reality show NOT win a dance competition versus able-bodied participants.
The bottom line is that aside from a few of these corny moments, this show deals with many relevant issues for someone with a spinal cord injury and it’s good to see a show that feature people that actually have a disability. If you haven’t seen an episode yet, I think it’s definitely worth checking out.