SERIES PREMEIRE AIRS MON., JUNE 4 AT 10 P.M. ON SUNDANCE CHANNEL
Do we really need another reality show chronicling the daily lives of seemingly average individuals? In the case of “Push Girls,” the Sundance Channel’s new reality television series, I say yes.
“Push Girls” is not your average half-hour-long reality show; it chronicles the lives of four women who are in wheelchairs and living in Los Angeles. Mia Schaikewitz, Auti Rivera, Angela Rockwood-Nguyen and Tiphany Adams are four independent and beautiful women figuring out their lives, careers and relationships and facing problems that able-bodied people can relate to as well.
While watching the first episode, I felt like I got to know the quartet, their dreams and their struggles, whether it was Rivera’s desire to have a baby or Schaikewitz’s relationship problems. They were relatable, yet also somewhat of a mystery; like many people, I have never really interacted with someone handicapped.
I wanted to know more about their lives, but as the episode progressed, my thirst for knowledge became more about who they were as women, regardless of physical differences. The wheelchairs act as the “wow” factor that distinguishes the show from other series and attracts viewers, but not as the key component that propels the stories forward.
With any reality show, I always wonder how much is real and how much is staged. But in the case of “Push Girls,” I don’t question how independent and remarkable the women are. The premiere shows them going to the gym, driving handicap-enabled cars and going to dance clubs. Their physical condition clearly does not hold them back from living their lives, and that is truly inspiring.
Rockwood-Nguyen was a successful model before a car accident left her a quadriplegic, and today she is trying to get back into modeling. She says in the show that modeling is really her only way to pay the bills, especially because welfare does not cover her necessary care and medication. She knows her talent and beauty, but it’s painful to watch the response of photographers and modeling agencies who aren’t used to a handicapped model.
The first episode left me ready for more, and I’m excited to see where the series goes. I’ll tune back in because this is not another catty iteration of “Real Housewives,” full of backstabbing, arguments and mental breakdowns.
Instead, “Push Girls” is refreshing, revealing that life in a wheelchair does not designate a person as a social outcast. There are so many ignorant thoughts and stigma associated with physical handicaps, and this series will work against that to show they are just like anyone else.
In my favorite scene from the first episode, Adams is shown putting gas in her car, a mundane task. She pulls up to the pump, the camera is fixed onthe driver-side door, where she has to set up her wheelchair and lift herself into it.
The entire process looks tedious and time-consuming, but Adams is completely independent and just as capable of pumping gas as someone not in a wheelchair. On top of that, Adams also flirts with the guy at the pump next to her, proving that being in a wheelchair does not mean you cannot feel confident and beautiful.
Being paralyzed can diminish someone’s life, but these four women exemplify what it means to make the best of a terrible situation. They are not sitting on the sidelines and letting their lives pass by.
Watching the show will make you thankful for what you have and inspire you to achieve your dreams and be more understanding towards people in wheelchairs. Overall, “Push Girls” is entertaining and fun to watch and on a deeper, more significant level fights ignorance and educates viewers.
By Jessie Miller