University of Illinois at Chicago
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Guys and Dolls: Constructing Disabled Teens on Television

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posted on 2015-07-21, 00:00 authored by Jessica Tourtellotte
A critical theory approach was used in this paper to explore mass media’s shift in portraying characters with disabilities in teen television. This work focuses on three popular contemporary American teen television dramas and a relatively recent short Australian film to discuss their representations of disability. In the past, mass media has often represented characters with disabilities as tragic victims, super crips, powerless, asexual or sexually wayward, or villainous. This thesis works to demonstrate a gradual shift occurring in the representation of disability in the entertainment industry. For the last eight years, teen television in particular has been disrupting the typical stereotypes of people with disabilities. These new portrayals depict young adult disabled characters as culturally and socially empowered, independent and sexually aware. This thesis also seeks to bring adolescents with disabilities into the forefront of humanities based research.



Sandahl, Carrie


Department of Disability and Human Development

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level

  • Masters

Committee Member

Parker Harris, Sarah Gill, Carol

Submitted date



  • en

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