TV’s first deaf showrunners want to change the conversation around people with disabilities


“It’s a visually based life, that often is overlooked by the general public,” says Shoshannah Stern, co-creator of This Close.

How many times have you watched a TV show or movie that depicts what it’s like to be a deaf person through the audio completely dropping out when the story enters a deaf character’s point-of-view? How many stories of this sort convey deafness through silence? A lot of them, right?

To be honest, that was the sort of thing I had never once questioned until I checked out the new Sundance Now TV series This Close, a six-episode show about Michael and Kate, two best friends who also happen to be deaf. The two are played by Josh Feldman and Shoshannah Stern, who also created the series, wrote all six episodes, and served as its showrunners. And the more we talked during the latest episode of my podcast, I Think You’re Interesting, the more I realized that thinking about deafness as silence is entirely a construct of people who can hear.

“You don’t know what silence is if you can’t hear,” Stern told me at one point, before explaining that her experience — as someone who can read lips fairly well — would be very different from someone who can’t read lips at all. Similarly, sound still exists for people who are deaf and hard of hearing, but often as vibrations. Stern noted, for example, that she can always feel her blood flowing, or her heart pumping, the sorts of things we all can feel but maybe don’t experience as “sound” in the way Stern might.

That was just part of my fascinating discussion with Feldman, Stern, and This Close director Andrew Ahn, who helmed all six episodes and found new ways to …read more

Source:: Vox – All

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