Let’s be honest.
Media portraying any sort of health issue or disability can really suck. Often times, they are “inspiration porn” created by people who don’t really understand the conditions portrayed in their movie, resulting in a frankly condescending tearjerker objectifying the characters in the film in order to make the target able-bodied, neurotypical audience feel better about themselves, rather than actually raising awareness for the real experiences had by folks living with the conditions represented in the film.
Finding movies that actually do a good job with representation can be a real challenge, but they do exist! This list contains movies and TV shows recommended by the Virtual Spoonies community that didn’t strike us as inspiration porn. This list will grow and change over time, and we encourage more suggestions! There is a submission form at the bottom of this page if you would like to suggest your favorite movies.
The Fundamentals of Caring
A writer (Paul Rudd) retires after a personal tragedy and becomes a disabled teen’s caregiver. When the two embark on an impromptu road trip, their ability to cope is tested as they start to understand the importance of hope and friendship. (via IMDb)
Read an excellent detailed review by The Center for Disability Rights here. (includes spoilers, be warned!)
Brain On Fire
The film follows the harrowing experience of a writer struggling with a rare neurological disease from when she first suffers symptoms to the many attempts at diagnosing it and the eventual discovery of the real cause of her illness. Based on the book, ‘Brain On Fire’, the true story of Susannah Cahalan, a journalist for the New York Post. (via IMDb)
Five Feet Apart
Seventeen-year-old Stella spends most of her time in the hospital as a cystic fibrosis patient. Her life is full of routines, boundaries and self-control all of which get put to the test when she meets Will, an impossibly charming teen who has the same illness. There’s an instant flirtation, though restrictions dictate that they must maintain a safe distance between them. As their connection intensifies, so does the temptation to throw the rules out the window and embrace that attraction. Love has no boundaries. (via IMDb)
Please Stand By
The world is a confusing place for Wendy Welcott, a fiercely independent and brilliant young woman with autism. Wendy longs to leave her group home and return to living with her sister’s family and new baby girl. She is sure that in order to reunite with her family, all she needs to do is convince them of her newfound competence and abilities. As a lover of all things Star Trek, Wendy writes in her free time; so when she hears about a Star Trek screenplay competition, she seizes the opportunity to submit her 500-page script and prove her worth. However, her only problem: if she doesn’t hand in her 500-page script to Paramount Pictures in person, she will miss the deadline. Wendy sneaks out of her group home and travels hundreds of miles outside her protective boundaries and refuses to allow anything to stop her from achieving her goals. (via IMDb)
RENT (On Broadway)
Set in New York City’s gritty East Village, the revolutionary rock opera RENT tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent. “Measuring their lives in love,” these starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic. (via IMDb)