Wheelchair Heroes

‘A Million Little Things’: Wheelchair Users Respond With Mixed Emotions to Eddie’s Paralysis

AMillion Little Things season 3 kicked off right where season 2 ended: with Eddie getting hit by a car.
Eddie survived the accident but is now in a wheelchair with a slim chance of ever being able to walk again.
I’m not a wheelchair user myself but something about the way the show was handling Eddie’s situation felt… off. Especially when Eddie started saying his accident felt like “karma” for his part in Alex’s death.

But, again, I’m not a wheelchair user. So who am I to decide what is and isn’t ableist?

Major Spoilers Ahead

So I hit the internet to see what people were saying. And while there were definitely some mixed feelings, there were quite a few people who weren’t thrilled.

million little things review season 3

One Twitter user wrote an entire thread on the subject, tweeting,

“These writers could’ve done something differently for this wheelchair/paralysis storyline. For one. This wouldn’t have happened if you had him tell Theo my wheelchair isn’t A TOY & to respect his mobility aid. But this IS Hollywood where disabled writers don’t exist.”

Another Twitter user wrote,

“Disability is never payback. Don’t even put that into the conversation @AMillionABC. Too many ableds already believe that. Rectify this bad message, immediately.”

million little things season 3 review

On Reddit, there were similar concerns over the portrayal of Eddie’s paralysis.

One person wrote,

“From the disabled perspective (unable to work, mostly bedridden, split my out-of-bed time between a wheelchair and a cane), it really effing bothers me. It feels like a stupid token ‘diversity’ move.”

And another added,

“As someone who has to use a wheelchair about 25% of the time it feels cheap.”

million little things season 3 recap

There were a select few, however, who felt like the storyline made them feel seen.

One mother wrote,

“My 23 yr old son was in a UTV accident in July and is now paraplegic. Thank you for portraying our (and so many others) new ‘normal’ in your show. I’m really interested to see where you take Eddie on this adventure.”

And another person tweeted,

“I spent 6 years in a wheelchair. Drs told me I’d never walk again. I feel Eddie’s pain. Adjusting to that new normal at 30 was hard.”

However, those two folks seemed to be largely in the minority with most wheelchair users upset about the direction of the storyline.

One of the show’s writers, Chris Luccy, responded to the criticism and tweeted,

“Please know that two of our writers grew up with disabled parents, one who was blind & one who was in a wheelchair. Inspired by them, we strive to make Eddie’s experiences as authentic as possible so people dealing with these issues feel seen.”

It should go without saying that having a parent with a disability is not the same as having a disability yourself. Not to mention that blindness really has nothing to do with being in a wheelchair. People with disabilities are not a homogenous group.

A Million Little Things will have to tread very carefully if they want to avoid ableist tropes. Only time will tell if they can actually get it right.

A Million Little Things airs on ABC on Thursdays.

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