WATCH: Netflix series ‘Special’ explores life as a gay man with cerebral palsy

ryan o'connell netflix series special
Photo: Netflix

The first trailer for Netflix’s latest queer series Special has been released, and it’s set to take a heartwarming look at the experiences of a gay man living with cerebral palsy.

Special is written by and stars Ryan O’Connell, who based the show on his memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.

“I was in the closet about being gay, and then I was in the closet about being disabled, and now…no more closets,” his character declares in the trailer.

The show is being described as “a distinctive and uplifting new series about a gay man, Ryan, with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he always wanted.”

“When the rude curveball known as ‘his twenties’ happened, he was determined to take his life from bleak to chic and embrace everything that makes him exactly who he is,” the synopsis reads.

“After years of dead-end internships, working in his pajamas as a blogger and communicating mostly via text, Ryan eventually figured out how to take his life from bleak to chic and began limping towards adulthood.”

“I never wanted to star in Special but — and this make shock you — the world is not exactly swimming with gay 20-something actors who have mild cerebral palsy,” O’Connell told Queerty.

“I was considering waiting outside physical therapy places all across LA with a net and forcing people to audition, but my producers told me kidnapping was not the look, so I guess it had to be me!”

He said that growing up, if he had seen a gay man with a disability represented on TV or in movies, it would have “probably altered the course of my life forever.”

“I know that sounds dramatic, but when you’re young and you feel like a freak for being who you are, not seeing yourself being reflected back at you basically confirms that. It tells you, implicitly, that you don’t matter,” he said.

“The personal is universal. You find shared experiences through specificity. I want people [both disabled and not] to watch Special and see themselves in it.”

Special is available to stream on Netflix on April 12.

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