Down syndrome and The Guardian

Thanks to Netflix, I can catch television shows that were on years ago, and that I had no time or interest in watching when they were available as first run shows. I recently started watching The Guardian, which aired around 2001-2004. There are a total of 67 episodes in the series and I’ve been just watching them one after the other.

The main character, Nick Fallin, is a corporate lawyer who is court-assigned 1500 hours of community service serving those who need legal services but cannot affordthem, mostly children, owing to a drug conviction. Nick may be the most emotionally repressed character I have ever seen in a tv show or movie. As a matter of fact, I wonder at how he is even able to have a relationship with a woman with as little as he says or admits to feeling.

His girlfriend, Lulu, gets pregnant. I realize this is a television show and there are writers behind the scenes trying to create something that will keep the ratings high, but I really had a deep appreciation for the episode when Lulu discovers the baby she is carrying will be born with Down syndrome. The season 3, episode 14 is entitled, All is Mended.

One of Nick’s clients in this show is a 23year old man who has Down syndrome, and this is Nick’s opportunity to understand a little more about what Down syndrome means. The young man, Mark, is preparing to audition for a Shakespeare play whose director always employs at least one person with disabilities. Mark prepares this portion of a speech from Midsummer Night’s Dream:

“If we shadows have offended
Think but this
And all is mended”

Nick and his girlfriend take Mark to the audition, but Mark gets stage fright. Nick encourages Mark and walks him to the stage where he goes on and recites the lines.

Nick shows more emotion when around Mark than you ever see in any of the other 55 or so episodes i have seen thus far, and I think that maybe even the writers couldn’t have anticipated what it does to a person who is open to loving someone with Down syndrome. I loved the depiction of Down syndrome in this episode, the reality of the struggle that many go through when they receive a pre-natal diagnosis, and how incredibly powerful it is to come face to face with a beautiful someone born with this condition, as opposed to what’s “in the shadows” when a diagnosis is first given.

Certainly, parenting a child with Down syndrome is not easy, but there is something unique and deeply moving about loving someone like our son Kepler. I’m so glad for this reminder, especially today.

4 thoughts on “Down syndrome and The Guardian

  1. I enjoyed reading this post. I was not aware of the Guardian and will look for it on Netflix. It's always nice to see actors with down syndrome on TV. Have you been following the subplot on glee? Someone told me about it so I have started watching the first season on Netflix. Interesting insights into the relationship between the mean cheerleading coach and her secret older sister with down syndrome.


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