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Representing Youth with Disability on Television

Glee, Breaking Bad, and Parenthood


Dana Hasson

Representing Youth with Disability on Television is a complex and multidimensional mainstream cultural discourse that examines specific stereotypes in fictional programming. The book draws attention to the group labeled as disabled, which is often marginalized, misrepresented, and misunderstood in the media, by analyzing the popular television programs Glee, Breaking Bad, and Parenthood. To obtain a more rigorous account of the way that youth (9–18 years of age) with disability are framed on television, this analysis examines the following issues: how research on popular culture is contextualized within social theory; the theoretical perspectives on representations of disability in popular culture; and the various contexts, genres, media, representations, and definitions of youth with disability in popular culture. The text also outlines the historical growth of disability, which is crucial for a discussion regarding the changing dimensions of popular culture. Critical hermeneutics, content analysis, and methodological bricolage are the mélange of methodologies used to closely examine the dominant models of disability (social vs. medical) used in the portrayal of disabled youth on television today.
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The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.

— Martin Luther King, Jr. —

This book would not have been possible without the love, support, and encouragement I received from my husband Sam, my children Liam and Ella, my parents Jack and Randi, my second parents Marcel and Soly, my brothers Jeremy and Cory, Julie, Shane David, Nancy, Kayla, Dylan, and friends (you know who you are). It also is crucial for me to recognize my late grandparents Leon, Eva, Ike, and Mollie; they were instrumental in my development and have inspired me in more ways than I thought possible. My grandmother Eva will never know how much she turned my life around as I watched her face challenges and push through adversity (surviving the Holocaust and living through an amputation) to prove to herself and her family that she would not be beaten down but lifted up. My grandfather Leon, a Holocaust survivor as well, always expressed his wish for his grandchildren to pursue education and take it as far as it could possibly go. As a man who never ← ix | x →had that opportunity because of his circumstances, it was his biggest dream, and I hope that I have fulfilled his wish and have made him proud. My grandparents Ike and Mollie always only saw the best in their grandchildren and fed us with kindness and unconditional...

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