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Special Education

Young Adults With Down Syndrome Star in New Cable Reality Show

By Christina A. Samuels — December 07, 2015 2 min read
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A documentary series featuring seven young adults with Down syndrome is premiering on Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET on A&E.

“Born This Way” comes from Bunim-Murray productions, the same company that created MTV’s “The Real World” and the E! network’s “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” The A&E press release describes the cast as:

  • Rachel—Working in the mailroom for an insurance company, she will be the maid of honor at her brother’s upcoming wedding. Rachel would love to get married herself, but first she has to find the right guy.
  • Sean—An excellent golfer and avid sportsman, Sean is a self-professed ladies’ man, who is not shy about introducing himself to every eligible woman he meets.
  • John—From a very young age, John made it clear to his parents that he craved the spotlight. A born entertainer, John is committed to his music and is pursuing a career in rap.
  • Steven—Working as a dishwasher at Angel Stadium in Anaheim and in customer service at a local grocery store, Steven is a huge movie buff and knows the title and year of each Oscar winning film.
  • Cristina—This loving and compassionate young adult works in a middle school. In her free time she loves talking on the phone with Angel, her boyfriend of 4 years and the man she plans to marry.
  • Megan—A budding entrepreneur, Megan has created a line of clothing she sells under the brand “Megology.” She is pursuing her dream of becoming a film producer and is a proud advocate committed to spreading the word that society should not limit adults with disabilities.
  • Elena—With a flair for the dramatic, this young woman embraces life. Elena loves to cook, dance and write poetry and takes a great pride in her independence.

And here’s a trailer:

A note: I interviewed Megan Bomgaars, an aspiring film studies student, and her mother earlier this year. She and more than 100 other young people were honored by the White House for “beating the odds” and enrolling in college.

The trailer suggests that the parents will also be a major part of the show, as they struggle between wanting to shield their children and guiding them towards independence.

Bunim-Murray Productions has a reputation for slickly produced work that many people love (or love to hate.) This six-episode miniseries promises to have more emotional heft, if it avoids condescending to its subjects and shows that these young adults face the same issues—work, friendship, love, independence—as their peers who do not have disabilities.

Photo: The cast of “Born This Way,” a 6-episode series premiering Dec. 8 on A&E (Courtesy A&E Network)

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.