Episode Three: Celebrating Life

Episode Three: Celebrating Life

This week on Push Girls, Angela celebrates her ten years of wheelchair life, a mini-wheelchair parade takes over the Melrose shopping district, Chelsie is blessed with her first pair of high heel shoes since her injury, and Mia reunites with her alcoholic mother. Who said wheelchair living wasn’t fun? No one (except for maybe Mia’s mom). But still, the girls push harder than ever this episode to prove they’re fearless, independent and full of mixed messages.

Let’s start with the awkward introduction of Mia’s mother Rita. Did anyone else cringe when she said, “You mean you’re not walking yet?” within the first ten seconds of walking through Mia’s front door. How about when she said, “I just wish she died because I didn’t know what her life was gonna be like.” Say what?! What mother wishes death upon her child? Or says other ignorant things like: “I didn’t realize people in wheelchairs could function” or “I’m less worried she’s gonna have a horrible life and that makes me feel good.”

It's no wonder Mia has escaped her mother for three years. She’s like a child with no filter to her thoughts, saying whatever may surface to her tiny, little mind. Sundance producers must have thought they hit the jackpot when she showed up on set, especially since Mia has no problem throwing her under the bus on national TV by calling out her alcoholism. To which Rita scoffs, “That’s ridiculous. You need to get over that.”

And even though I think Rita is a bit of a loose cannon, I kind of have to agree with her. Mia, some times you just have to let things go. Maybe the reason why your mom thinks that wheelchair people can’t have a happy, fulfilling life is because you appear unhappy and bored. You were sad when you had a boyfriend, and then sadder when he dumped you. You’ve been called emotionless by your wheelchair sorority sisters. And Sundance has cast you on a reality show. Just something to think about.

The other big story line this week in Push Girls is Angela’s Life Celebration. And before the house party to celebrate her ten years of paralyzed living starts, everyone is out running errands. Auti and Tiphany go to the bakery to get Angela’s cake, which in any other reality show would be considered boring. But since Auti and Tiphany refuse help from the guy behind the counter, carrying the cake from the shop to the car becomes a bit. Can two women in wheelchairs carry a large cake through a parking lot without destroying it? The answer is yes, but not without some close calls thanks to a curb and the awkwardness of entering a car from a pushchair. What wild entertainment. Thanks Sundance! The best part of the whole skit is when Tiphany tells Auti, “Next time, I think we should do a smaller cake!” How about next time Tiphany, you just accept the help from the guy behind the counter. After all, accepting help doesn’t make you less independent; it makes you practical.

Push Girls Episode Three

The other errand before the big bash is blessing young Chelsie with her first pair of high heel shoes since her injury. “The first pair of high heel shoes after being injured is so important because it totally brings back your sex appeal. And totally makes you feel like a woman again,” Tiphany tells the camera. Mind you this is thirty seconds after she tells us how sometimes her ankles can get all twisted and fall underneath her footplate without her knowledge. This one time “I didn’t realize my foot was grazing the cement,” she tells the story. “And my toes got shaved and were bleeding.” I know women are prone to take pain in order to feel sexy, but are high heels necessary in wheelchairs? With all due respect, isn’t the purpose of high heels to make the leg look slender and leaner? Without standing up, it seems a high heel shoe would just make your knees sit higher, raising the potential for more twisted ankles. Not to mention the pointy shoes potential to crush toes and cause pressure sores. Chelsie, if you want to be sexy—just be you. The deal breaker of any relationship will never be because you wear flats. And in my experience, feeling like a woman has nothing to do with high heels but more to do with being comfortable in your own skin, no matter which way it folds or bends.

Which brings me to Angela and her womanly decision not to go to Vietnam with her pseudo-ex-husband, who she claims to still love and respect. Is she nuts? She’s worried that the Vietnamese will think she’s cursed because of her wheelchair? Isn’t breaking stereotypes the reason why she’s on this reality show? What makes her think she can’t have the same effect on people in Vietnam? And then she turned down, as she said, “the perfect life in Vietnam” for what here exactly? An unbalanced checkbook (which can now be done online by the way) and a stack of bills? In nearly every scene of this show, Angela gives us mixed messages, which becomes kind of annoying. Is she together with her husband? Or is she divorced? Is she making the most of her disability? Or is she complaining about it? It seems one minute Angela wants us to invest in her tenacity and ambitiousness; and then the next she want us to feel sorry and imagine her helplessness. Wonder what kind of mood she’ll be in next week?



  • Kathy

    omg, jana, pure genius. your best review yet. you should be a psychologist. reading your columns is like rolling on the floor laughing while intermittently having my face slapped. ;-)

  • Wheeliegirl1962

    Another great commentary Jana!

    I don’t get what the big deal about the high heels is. When I tried to wear them they wouldn’t stay on my feet long enough to try out. And if I did get them to stay on, the heels fell behind my foot plate, making my toes point almost straight upward. I looked ridiculous, and my legs spasmd the whole time. After years I discovered wedge heels from Naturalizer, They came in wide and extra wide widths, not too high, and open toed. These are my favorite semi-dressy warm weather shoes. They are comfy, don’t cause rubbing and are also pretty.

    I haven’t watched this episode yet. I recorded it. For some reason, I just don’t know why, I am really ambiguous about these girls. The incident with the cake is a prime example. Why NOT ask or accept help from someone? I do it all the time!!! It gets me attention, and it makes the person who is helping me feel better when I shower them with “Thanks!” and “You’re a life saver!”. I would never risk a friends expensive decorated cake over my own ego to appear “independent”. But again, as you say, this IS REALITY TV. It’s all done for show. Maybe that’s why I cringe at watching them. They aren’t really “real”. They look like my “Wheelchair Barbie” (who, by the way came in her package wearing practical shoes). I wonder if during the series any of them will be shown having to live through the horror of having an “accident” at work, or while shopping or out with friends. During the second episode Auti said she “had to pee so bad” and her husband scooped her up and put her on the toilet (no commode chair or grab bars???) and didn’t even hint that she somehow had to get her tight workout pants off. Next we see her, her husband is scooping her up piggy-back style and taking her out of the bathroom with her pants perfectly in place.

    I want to see REAL women having and dealing with REAL issues that no one thinks or knows about! But maybe this side of paralyzed life is too gross, graphic and real for society to see or think about. I hope we don’t end up only seeing these girls and their glam life in their leopard decked glamorous chrome and gold (probably donated for free advertizement) wheelchairs.

    I have no qualms with these women personally. They all seem very likeable, but I wish all of them had “real” jobs like Mia has. It takes me 4 hours to get myself together to go to work. That doesn’t include my 30 minute drive to the office.

    I know, I’m a pessimist. But I’ll give it a couple of more episodes before I really make up my mind. And Jana, you are right, put more than one or two people in wheelchairs and it does become a zoo! Where, in Los Angeles can they get together and still all have handicap parking available?!