Growing Up Fisher

Mel Fisher, the blind father rides his son's bike while Henry hangs on at the back.
Mel Fisher, the blind father rides his son’s bike while Henry hangs on at the back.

NBC has a new sit-com, Growing Up Fisher, which airs on Tuesdays at 9.30pm. EST.

It’s great to have a central character in a network comedy show who is blind. Every time someone with vision loss is given an active, lively personality on TV or in a movie, it makes the public a little more comfortable with blindness. So that’s a victory right there. (The next victory will be having a blind actor play such parts.)

The story is a memoir told by Henry, the twelve-year old son of Mel Fisher. Mel is the blind guy – a successful, aggressive attorney. Mel’s  “I can do anything” ego has helped him succeed as a lawyer , but his wife Joyce is fed up with standing in the background, and wants a life of her own. The couple agree to a divorce. As well as Henry , Mel and Joyce have a teenage daughter, Katie, who is learning to drive.

So that’s the situation, what about the comedy?

In the opening scene Mel is using a chain saw in his backyard to cut down a tree and yelling at the family, who are standing at a safe distance to stay clear. Later he shows Katie how to parallel park the car perfectly. Again the family stand around in silent consternation. The cute twelve year-old Henry is acting as his father’s eyes, helping Mel hide his blindness from all but the family, and bluff his way successfully through various tricky situations. On the other hand, Mel repeatedly bangs into the same coffee table and can’t keep track of his cell phone. Joyce wants to rediscover her missed youth by wearing a water bra and pink jeans and tries to have Katie show her how. Both children are parenting their parents!

Hopefully if the series survives beyond this pilot run, Mel’s can begin to have some of the comic and embarrassing mishaps that are inevitable with sight loss, to make him funnier and more genuine. Still, his determination to hide his blindness is something almost everyone with sight loss goes through.

The only clear message about blindness in episode 1 is that guide dogs guide their owner in the direction the owner wants. They don’t see for him. Which is good. If we get one accurate message about blindness in each show, it could add up.

Did you watch episode 1? What did you think? Are you excited, disappointed, or indifferent? Let us know how you feel about it!

6 thoughts on “Growing Up Fisher

    1. Hey Lou! I haven’t followed the show much, but did catch last week’s episode. I am glad the show is starting a new series and therefore has passed the pilot phase. I love that the protagonist is employed and gutsy. This might make some headway against the idea that people who live with blindness are out-of-it, passive individuals. There could be lots more accurate detail and sensitive portrayal of the reality of vision loss, but the great thing is that the show is there! What do you think?

  1. I started watching because I had read your post and I like the actress Jenna Elfman, but have kept up because it is entertaining! You mentioned hoping there would be accurate info in each episode (like the guide dog in e1), from the episodes you’ve caught, do you think that’s happening?

    I’m also curious if you know the show Covert Affairs–one of the central characters, Auggie Anderson is blind. He works for the CIA and dates the lead character. Definitely not passive!

    1. I didn’t know that about a blind actor in Covert Affairs. This is good! Maybe soon we can think about an actual blind actor. I watched the latest episode and there was a message about profiling but it was a bit more concealed than the guide dog message maybe?

    1. Does anyone know the answer to this? I think that producers are still prejudiced about actors with vision loss unless they are already famous like Dame Judi Dench and she doesn’t play blind parts.

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