Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her daughter, Bristol Palin, were in the headlines again this week, railing against Sunday’s episode of “Family Guy” featuring a character with special needs. In the episode “Extra Large Medium,” the elder son, Chris, goes out on a date with Ellen, a mentally handicapped woman who tells him, “My dad’s an accountant and my mom’s the former governor of Alaska” — an obvious reference to Palin’s son, Trig, who has Down syndrome. The Palins, of course, interpreted it as such; both Bristol and Sarah took to the ex-governor’s Facebook page, where Bristol wrote, “If the writers of a particularly pathetic cartoon show thought they were being clever in mocking my brother and my family yesterday, they failed. All they proved is that they’re heartless jerks.” Boom boom pow!
And yet … Andrea Friedman, the 39-year-old actress with Down syndrome who read the voiceover for Ellen on the “Family Guy” episode in question, said peeps needs to chill. In an interview yesterday with The New York Times, Friedman spoke out and said, “It’s not really an insult. I was doing my role, I’m an actor. … I was laughing at it.” She added, “[I turned on the TV and] I saw Sarah Palin with her son Trig. I’m like, ‘I’m not Trig. This is my life.’ I was making fun of Sarah Palin, but not her son.”Friedman also wrote a letter responding to the controversy, which was published on the blog Palingates:
“I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor. I thought the line ‘I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska’ was very funny. I think the word is ‘sarcasm.’ In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life.
Then Friedman took a potshot at Palin for chafing at “Family Guy” at all:
“My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes.”
Whether you agree with Sarah Palin or not, I think we can all appreciate Friedman’s sense of humor, spunk and talent. When asked if it is “uncomfortable” to be asked to play characters with Down syndrome, Friedman, who’s been on “Life Goes On,” “Baywatch,” “7th Heaven,” ER,” among other shows, told the Times“:
“No, I’m proud of it. I’m not embarrassed. But mostly, it doesn’t matter if you have Down syndrome. Really, it just matters to have a different challenge.”