The Book Group

The Book Group

Thanks to a suggestion right here on the blog, I have been watching The Book Group. Here’s the description on IMDB:

“American Clare Pettengill, newly arrived in Glasgow, starts up a book group in order to make some new friends. The group consists of three unhappy European football wives, a pretentious drug-addict student, a closet-homosexual football enthusiast, and a kind and gentle struggling author in a wheelchair. Each week they meet to read and discuss a new book, which always affects or influences each of the group’s lives in some way.”

It’s available to watch on Hulu.

Kenny is the paraplegic character and so far I’m finding him well done.  It’s a nuanced performance with his disability playing not too large or too small a role.  I think that’s achievable because it’s a tv show and not a movie, so there’s more time to develop him (but, his development far exceeds Glee or Breaking Bad).  The first episode I found a bit painful to watch, partly because the girl who starts the book club, Clare, is so very socially awkward and also because the actors are still finding their roles.  It picks up quickly, though, and I’ve hardly been able to stop watching.

I just started season 2 and in that season Kenny starts dating a paraplegic woman named Carol Ann.  I looked up the actress and discovered that she is disabled in real life.  You know how happy that makes me!

And wow, what a gorgeous woman she is…

Here’s some snippits about Kerry McGregor:

“In some people’s eyes, it could be a hindrance but in my eyes it’s not.”

Article that completely unnecessarily labels her disability.  What does that have to do with her singing…?

When it came to The X Factor, she told Able: “It was a massive achievement not to get discriminated against because of the chair.  It’s something that I’ve always faced within the industry – when people see the cover of a CD and hear the music, they normally like what they see and hear; but when they’re faced with the disability they really don’t know how to make it work.” … Kerry’s appearance on The X Factor has shown many people that disability needn’t hold anyone back; as she rightly states: “It’s people that hold you back from having what it is that you desire – not the disability”.

A new friend gave me a different take on actors with disabilities in film.  He suggested that perhaps the grueling nature of filming and the intense schedule might be difficult for people with SCI to put their bodies through.  I hadn’t thought of that before.  I’m not sure if that’s an actual reason, but I could see where it might be something that the casting director or producer or whoever is in charge of these decisions assumes.  Why worry about it if you can just stick an able-bodied person in a wheelchair?

I still think that the decision of what one’s body can handle is up to the individual.  People with SCIs and other disabilities should be auditioning for these jobs and getting them (and not just roles specifically meant to be a disabled character, but all roles).  I say, they know what they’re getting into and the person doing the casting shouldn’t be deciding what’s too much for them.

But, it is an interesting new take on actors with disabilities.


  1. Geekguy
    Apr 26, 2011

    OOOH! Thankyou! I remembered Kerry from X-factor. It will be nice to see if she can act too.

    • RuthMadison
      Apr 26, 2011

      I’ve just watched the first two episodes with her in it and I think there’s only one more. I’m enjoying her a character a lot!

  2. Merry
    Apr 27, 2011

    I have two seasons on the Book Group stashed away in the back of a cupboard somewhere too. It aired while I was living in the UK and I stumbled upon it by (happy) accident. I remember finding it very funny – pretty British, though:-) You’ve made me want to go and dig them out again.
    On the subject of disabled actors, I remember getting all riled up a few months ago when the USA network got Chris Gorham (Auggie Anderson in Covert Affairs) to do a little ADA promo video for them. I was thinking that it was pretty hypocritical, seeing as though they’d hired a sighted (but admittedly EXTREMELY dishy) actor to play a blind guy. That was my gut reaction, but I eventually simmered down and realized that we also have to factor in the fact that the POOL of available actors with disabilities is pretty small – some of that due to discrimination at drama-college level, maybe, which definitely needs to be looked at, but a lot of it just due to population percentages. I’m admittedly positively biased toward disabled actors getting the jobs, but I have to admit that most times when I’ve seen actors with disabilities cast in films or TV shows I’ve generally been embarrassed – the problem being that if their standard of acting doesn’t match up with the rest of the cast they just come across as “token” hires – which is far, far worse. SO I guess what I’m saying is that in my dream world I’d like to see the best actor for any job being hired – whether that’s an AB actor in a disabled role or vice versa (a little script re-write here and there might be in order, but why the hell not?) Wouldn’t it be great if we were to see that pool of available actors increasing in size?

    • RuthMadison
      Apr 27, 2011

      Apparently there are only two seasons! So sad, I’m almost done.

      I think you’re very right, in an ideal world it would be the best actor for the role getting hired! I don’t know how to create that world though 🙁

      I also think that it needs to start at a lower level, with kids who have disabilities and are interested in acting being encouraged and given good training, the same as any other. Once that happens, then actors with and without disabilities can go up to audition for all roles!

  3. NMeda
    May 3, 2013

    I know it’s quite hard to choose a set of actors based on their experiences and capabilities. Glad to know the real stories in your group. Keep it up.

    handicap vans

Submit a Comment