Sundance Channel’s “Push Girls”:”When You Can’t Stand Up, Stand Out”

27 Jun
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Photo from sundancechannel.com.

“If you can’t stand up, stand out!” is the motto of Push Girls, the Sundance Channel‘s reality program focusing on five wheelchair-bound women in Los Angeles. (The fifth, Chelsie Hill, makes her debut this season).  None was born disabled; all encountered traumatic accidents or medical conditions as young women. As a result, each is either paraplegic or quadriplegic. It’s an attractive group; in fact, a couple are downright gorgeous as well as gutsy. If you’re feeling down and need something to make you believe in the resilience of humankind, this just might be the show for you.

Models, Wives, Athletes

Like non-seated women, the stars of Push Girls–Auti Angel, Angela Rockwood, Tiphany Adams, and Mia Schakewitz–have been wives, athletes, and models.  As season two begins, Auti and her husband are struggling to keep their marriage together. Model Angela and her ex, who have divorced amicably, have decided that she will keep her lovely Los Angeles house; adaptive athlete Tiphany, along with Mia, practices going down stairs in her chair in case of fire–an instructive scene for anyone who is fully ambulatory and may not realize the difficulties involved. In a girls’ night out scene, Tiphany even rides a mechanical bull.

Aside from the ladies’ being confined to wheelchairs, the situations they face are very much like those other women face. That’s the point.

A Healthy Dose of ‘Tude

Unlike the stars of other reality shows, the Push Girls show us the challenges and victories of their lives, without becoming Debbie Downers on the one hand or demanding that viewers worship them as heroes on the other. Nor do they expect every gesture they make (“Hey! I just tweezed my eyebrows!” ) to become newsworthy. They simply are what they are, with a whole lot of attitude to help them along and lift up the hearts of their audience. As the season progresses, you’ll find there isn’t much the ladies won’t try. Limitations? Not too evident.

Thanks, Sundance

Not since the 2005 documentary film Murderball has there been a video presentation about the disabled evoking this level of inspiration. My only excuse for missing the first season of Push Girls is that my basic-expanded cable lineup doesn’t include the Sundance Channel, but I was fortunate enough to stumble upon the show while researching something else. No worries:  we can all watch it at sundancechannel.com.  With Sundance’s help,  disabled women are gaining more constructive time in the spotlight. Hear, hear!

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2 Responses to “Sundance Channel’s “Push Girls”:”When You Can’t Stand Up, Stand Out””

  1. Spashionista (Alicia) June 27, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    I’m going to have to respectfully disagree with you, Laura. I watched the entire first season of Push Girls and I felt a large part of it was manufactured “Real Housewife-esque” drama. Do you really think a disabled woman would even be permitted to ride a mechanical bull if she wasn’t part of a TV show? The potential liability from the owner’s perspective is too great.
    While I do think the mere act of building a show around the disabled is commendable I can’t relate to any of these women – and I’m a “Push Girl” myself. I don’t enjoy watching catty or contrived situations. There are some pearls of wisdom (like being able to use the stairs in case of emergency) but the truth is reality, even disabled reality, is too boring for television so they have to create scenarios and interactions that are unlikely to happen if there were no cameras present to film them.
    Having said that, I wish them all very well and have to give them credit for getting the perks that come with jumping on the reality TV bandwagon.That’s the true success story here 😉

    Alicia

    • desiburger2000 June 27, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      Alicia, as far as liability and riding mechanical bulls goes, in today’s litigious society, I can imagine all prospective riders having to sign waivers holding the bar harmless in case of injury. While I agree that much of reality TV is staged, to me the mere idea of basing a show on a group of disabled women is exciting and novel. Who would have done this ten or twenty years ago? I don’t even mind that I can’t relate to them. I never see anyone on TV I can relate to! We may not disagree as much as you think, but then maybe I have watched too much reality TV when I was too fatigued to read (thanks, neuropathy!) Take care,and thanks for reading and commenting, as always! Laura

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