SPARE TIME: Rachel, Sean, Cristina and Steven, from left, enjoy a trip to a bowling alley in A&E’s ‘Born This Way.’
One wants to be a rap star. Another is planning to be a film producer. Most of them are looking for romance and want to get married.
Oh, you’ve seen this all before.
Or have you?
Executive producer Jonathan Murray’s “Born This Way” spotlights a group of young people with Down syndrome.
Rachel, 32, loves her mailroom job. When asked what she wants people to know about her, she says, “I have an extra chromosome in me.”
“But I have a big heart, though.”
Steven, 24, and Sean, 21, both consider themselves players and like to introduce themselves to ladies at clubs. Both refuse to let a disability define them.
“You can make your life anything you want,” Steven says. The dishwasher at Angels Stadium considers himself the Matt Damon of his pals.
John, 28, loves to sing and clown for his family and friends.
Megan, 22, is a public speaker and has her own clothing line. In tonight’s hourlong premiere, she moves to Los Angeles with her mother, Kris, to pursue her dream of working behind the camera in films.
“Don’t limit this diva ’cause I’m right here,” she says.
An outing at a bowling alley for several of the friends becomes emotional when Elena, 28, feels criticized. She doesn’t like the stigma of Down syndrome and wonders why God chose to give it to her.
“Born” spends a lot of time following the group as they socialize but is at its most compelling when it tracks the complicated bonds tethering these young people to their parents.
John’s mother recalls doctors advising her not to expect anything from her son, that he would never be a productive citizen. Time has proven that advice wrong.
Elena’s mother admits she struggled for years with her daughter because of the stigma against disabled people in their native Japan. A child with special needs is considered shameful to the family.
Kris has devoted her life to her daughter and now is trying to consider Megan’s need for independence and a path for her own life.
And echoing many parents of children with disabilities, she wonders, “What happens when I die?”
Another parent stresses that every child comes with challenges — and if the show can comfort even one woman who has received what she thinks is world-ending news after an amniocentesis, then their on-camera journeys will be worth it.
Many network suits want their TV shows to be thought of as groundbreaking. “Born This Way” makes history in the most understated, matter-of-fact way.
By: Mark Perigard