By Shaneli Mirpuri
The newest season of the popular show, “American Horror Story: Freak Show” (AHS), takes one step forward compared to other shows by capitalizing on actors and actresses with various disabilities and giving them a platform to act on.
Rose Siggins, who plays Legless Suzi on the show, a woman without legs who relies on her arms and a wheeled board for mobility, was born with sacral agenesis, a birth defect affecting the development of the legs. Siggins’ legs were useless due to the defect and her legs were amputated when she was two years old.
“People stare at something they don’t understand. Because we’re different, doesn’t mean we’re entirely different. We’re just like you, we just come in different forms,” Siggins said in an AHS “Extra-Ordinary Artists” documentary video.
Siggins has had to adapt to living without legs by relying on her upper-body strength, yet she is still just a normal person, a mother of two who loves to cook and play.
Another “freak” on AHS is Mat Fraser, who plays “Paul the Illustrated Seal.” Fraser has a congenital disorder called Phocomelia which causes severe birth defects, especially underdeveloped arms.
Fraser calls them “seal-like arms” because his arms are very short, but have very long fingers that resemble a seal’s flippers.
“Freak means a radically different person on stage, entertaining with their radical difference. I cannot but help to exploit my physique when I’m performing,” Fraser said regarding his role on AHS.
“I’m a freak, and an actor. And I’m a freak actor playing a freak, and it’s awesome,”
Though AHS is not the only television show that has cast people with disabilities, it is one of few.
“Switched at Birth” on ABC has a majority of its deaf actors played by cast that is actually deaf and is expanding the world’s view towards the deaf community.
Peter Dinklage from “Game of Thrones” has received Emmy and Golden Globe awards for his expansive talent despite achondroplasia, a genetic condition that effects bone growth and causes dwarfism;
RJ Mitte brilliantly played Walter White Jr. on the hit series “Breaking Bad” despite his cerebral palsy, which his character also has.
Despite these few examples, many shows undermine the ability of disabled actors and actresses to play many roles as some shows even cast able-bodied people as a disabled character.
It is no secret that the disabled have been discriminated against for most of history, but it is time to start expanding the world’s viewpoint and truly make the world realize that just because people look different does not mean they really are different at heart.