There’s something very ironic about reality television. It’s the fact that the word “reality” specifically means “resemblance to what is real”. Yet, from The Real Housewives of “wherever” to Bridezillas to the Bachelor and Bachelorette and all of the “reality shows” that fall in between, when it comes to those of us who live in the cities where those shows are taped, who have been married and/or who have dated before, we’d all challenge just how real (or even unscripted for that matter) those shows really are. After all, who gets paid almost a million dollars to pick fights with their friends? Who gets to cuss out their parents and future spouses and still gets their way (all of the time)? Who has several people living in one house vying for their affection in between helicopter and yacht rides?
Thankfully, every once in a rare television season, something will emerge that gives us reason to not be quite so cynical (or leery) and Push Girls is one of those programs—one of those real reality programs. The backstory on it is that it’s a reality show on Sundance that follows four women: Angela, a model; Auti, a dancer who’s aspiring to become a mother; Mia, a graphic designer and Tiphani, a clothing designer.
The cool thing about the title of the show is that it eludes to a few meanings. In just the professional careers of these women alone, it’s pretty obvious that they are pushing themselves to live out their best lives. Yet, that is not the only thing that they have in common. They are also four women who have been confined to a wheelchair; they are four women who are paralyzed either from the neck or waist down (most of them due to an unfortunate accident).
There is something else that appears to be a common thread among these ladies. Although (mostly due to ignorance and social stigma) there is a temptation to want to pity them for having to live their lives while being wheelchair bound, there is something about their appearance (all beautiful) and their energy (all vibrant and strong) that challenges you to be more embarrassed about how you may have stereotyped this kind of disability prior to watching the program. Instead of feeling like their lives are harder, you walk away from the half-hour show with a different kind of perspective, with the belief that all of our lives are full of challenges; some are just very different than others.
With good reason, Push Girls may inspire you to be more aware and sensitive to the needs of those in wheelchairs. (By the way, if you know of someone in a wheelchair, especially an aspiring student, contact 1800wheelchair for information on products and scholarships.) For instance, there was one scene when Angela had a meeting with an agency that’s in a building that’s not wheelchair-accessible. Unfortunately, the agency didn’t seem to concerned one way or another about how she was going to make it to her appointment. But more than anything, Push Girls will remind you to not live your life with excuses—to do the best with what you have without any fear or regrets.
All of this from a reality television show? Well, yes. And no. Technically, it’s a 14-part documentary series and so it definitely doesn’t have a lot of the “over the top” stuff that typical reality television shows have. But that’s just one more reason to like it. It’s a show that truly does resemble something that’s real.