If you’ve been reading this blog for a minute, you know I’m all about inclusion and exploring the corners of what we find well, special. I like calling attention to sexualities, body types and situations that most people find uncomfortable or awkward due to our own prejudices and general assholery. So I decided to blog about something I did this weekend: I binge watched Special, a new miniseries I found on Netflix (of course) and why is it special, you'd ask??
Well, it stars Ryan O'Connell (who is the guy in the video) and it's based on his memoir. Still not special enough for you? What if I tell you that Ryan (both in real life and in the series) has cerebral palsy and that he is gay? Not interested? Ok. you may go now. You think it's intriguing? Please stay and bear with me.
So Ryan goes to work as an intern in one of those viral think pieces factories (in real life he used to work for Thought Catalog when it was good) and then hilarity and life ensues. Special is based on Ryan OConnells' own memoir, so you get the drift. The thing that I got most fascinated by? How Special manages to call us on society's never-ending shaming of men who happen to be gay, differently-abled or both and the surprisingly grounded way in which it does that.
The series is fun. Can it be better? Most probably. It kind of lost me a little with the rhythm in the first episode but it recovered quickly. I know the gayterati will find something to yap about after watching it but I liked it. It also is a kind of groundbreaking step because how many series have you watched on a big streaming platform that deal with the life a of gay man with cerebral palsy? None? I thought so. I hope they do a second season, because I certainly want to know what happened to all those characters.
My favorite episode? When Ryan's BFF (the FABULOUS Kim) gives him sex advice and Ryan hires a sex worker to, well, stop being a virgin. I basically hi-fived myself at that point. The sex worker is going to look familiar because he's guest-starring in Will and Grace and he's also had his own web-series: Brian Jordan Alvarez. Brian and Ryan (who is not a professional actor) create one of the most touching, sexy and real gay sex scenes I've seen on screen in many years. Yeah, they are both naked, so there's that. But you'll have to watch it to let me know what you think. I think Brian is cute but Ryan gives us 'normal' in a very refreshing and yeah, sexy way.
The series is short and kind of gives that feeling of being a web-series masquerading as a Netflix series, which when you come to think about it, it's very, very meta in itself. Also, Jim Parsons co-produces, which makes it really super appropriate, don't you think? Kind of a full-circle moment with a gay man producing a series written by a gay man and populated by gay men playing gay characters. I think that's representation enough.
So my advice when you have some time is: get some popcorn/chips/pita/whatever and sit down and watch this. You can thank me later. And here's the trailer: