I watched the Michael J. Fox Show this week. Michael’s show deals with a beloved news reporter who is hit with Parkinson’s Disease and must leave the newsroom. He decides to return after a few years. Instead of acknowledging the Parkinson’s is their ‘somewhere-but-let’s-not-acknowledge-it’, the show hits it head on. Mr. Fox, living with it daily, well no one understands more than he. I’ll leave the critique for the critics (and the viewers-at-large).
Now there may be many who do not like the approach of the show and I am not here to change your mind. Disease, any disease, is not funny. I have written about it before a while back when I mentioned a beautiful and brilliant actress (coincidentally also with Parkinson’s Disease) by the name of Lucy Roucis. (It would not surprise me at all if we see Lucy in a future episode). Laughing at, is one thing; but that is not to say there are not funny aspects to living with a disease that ONLY THOSE who live with could ever understand. The show takes THIS bold move. To some, it could be a ‘tough watch’ but there was a specific aspect of the show that I would like to comment.
There was a scene where Michael’s character is trying to serve his wife dinner food and he is struggling with his body’s ‘shaking’ as he tries to spoon out food on to her plate. The struggle to balance the food and the plate is evident. The camera passes each face at the dinner table watching him struggle and at the height of this ‘serving-struggle’ the wife blurts out, “Can you not have a personal victory here, we are starving.” And she takes the spoon, serves herself, and passes the food to the others.
I blurted out laughing immediately.
Now many might say the joke was cruel but it wasn’t because we, as the audience, are invited to their house. A house that lives with this disease every day. Even reading my synopsis of the scene does not do justice to the scene as it played on TV. What was so great about it was that this is a family that has dealt with all of the pain already. They are now living daily with the disease in their house. The writers captured this scene perfectly.
Having diabetes in our household, I can not tell you how many times we have shot a line to each other that no one else could say, or would even understand. But we do. There is an unwritten law that allows those who live with a disease to say certain things to each other that we would never allow others to even utter. Heck, there are things that are said that even surprise ourselves, and they are ‘okay’ because it us; speaking to us.
There have also been conversations between Rob and Kaitlyn, I have overheard, that I would never dare say to either one of them; but they allow it because they are even in a different category altogether; both having diabetes.
I’m sure those ‘in the know’ would tell us that this type of ‘banter’ is okay and dare I say even healthy as we deal with diabetes daily.
I do not find Parkinson’s Disease funny at all. I have worked with Michael J. Fox twice on two different episodes of Spin City and I can tell you that the difference over the years was evident that the disease (even though he hadn’t stated yet) was having a major impact on his body.
But that one line stated by his show-wife was brilliant and captured perfectly that this was a family dealing with the disease in a real, honest, and natural way. Do you ‘get away’ with lines in your house that you never allow others to say? I’m not asking you to share them because ‘out of context’ they might not sound like they do to you or at the time they were said. But if you do, good for you. Humor is good. Even in the darkest of times.
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