Netflix’s ‘Special’ Creator Ryan O’Connell on Representation in Pop Culture

Netflix’s “Special” follows a gay writer with disabilities and is getting praise for its representation on and off screen.

“I was really getting tired of just seeing, like, shows starring Kevin James, like, I think we’re in a time where Kevin can wait, do you know what I mean?” explained the show’s creator and star Ryan O’Connell.

The show is based off O’Connell’s life as he hid his cerebral palsy from friends and co-workers for years.

“I was actually hit by a car when I was 20 years old,” he said. “I moved to New York for school, and everyone assumed my limp was from my car accident and I thought, oh my God this is amazing. I was like I’m gonna just be an accident victim now ‘cause everyone understands that and literally no one understands cerebral palsy.”

O’Connell thought he’d solved his problems, but he eventually realized he was just denying who he was, disability included. He and his team have tried to get the show made since 2015 when Jim Parsons came on as a collaborator.

“It was four years ago but honestly the culture has experienced, like, a seismic shift in terms of, like, understanding representation and how meaningful it is,” he explained.