Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Jamie Brewer & Katelyn Reed play Adelaide on new FX series "American Horror Story"


  
People have been killed in that house. Possibly a lot of them. The house is also seriously haunted. We know this because people keep telling it to the Harmons, who refuse to leave even when it’s pretty clear everybody is right. In fact, a neighbor girl, Adelaide, flat out says they’re all going to die in the house. (Adelaide is the first person we meet in the pilot. She’s played by a young girl with Down Syndrome. She’s later portrayed by actress Jamie Brewer, who has Down Syndrome. And Glee fans know that Murphy has used two other actresses with Down Syndrome, Lauren Potter and Robin Trocki, in that show. Murphy’s former FX series, Nip/Tuck, had a Season 3 story about a Down Syndrome man – played by Blair Williamson – who wants to have surgery to look more like his parents.  This is obviously a trend, but what its deeper meaning is, who knows). Adelaide’s mother Constance (Jessica Lange, easily the best element of the series) frequently calls Adelaide a “mongoloid,” which is uncomfortable, though Constance is an obviously deranged, mean and certainly dangerous mother.

If one actress with Down syndrome doesn’t provide enough Tod Browning-style otherness for you, don’t worry — there are two.

from Hit Fix:
You want to throw out all the goodwill you generated on "Glee" by writing three-dimensional characters with Down syndrome and give Lange's character a daughter with Down's who's there only as creepy set dressing? Have at it!

from Variety:
So in they move, only to be warned by their neighbor with Down's syndrome (Jamie Brewer), "You are going to die in there" -- which, in its vague echoes of lines from "The Exorcist" and "Poltergeist II," represents the first homage of many in Murphy and Falchuk's script.

from ABC News:
The house also comes with strange neighbors. Jessica Lange plays Constance, a busybody Southern belle with an even more intrusive daughter, Adelaide, who (like Jamie Brewer, portraying her splendidly) has Down syndrome. Adult but childlike, the irrepressible Adelaide keeps busting into the Harmon's home.
"Addie will always find a way in," Constance tells Vivien matter-of-factly.


from Ranu's Reviews:
I am intrigued and at the same time in love with the supporting cast more so than the main stars. How could one not be in love with two-time Academy Award-winning actress Jessica Lange? She plays next-door neighbor and former Southerner, Constance. There is something up with this chick. She has a daughter, Adelaide (Jamie Brewer; Young Adelaide played by Katelyn Reed), with Down Syndrome who she often refers to as a Mongoloid, yet the super laid-back Constance will open a can of whoop-ass on you if she feels you have slighted her kid.

36 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post! I just shared this link on the page Stop Disability Slurs www.facebook.com/stopdisabilityslurs

    - Gretchen, Founder, SDS

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  2. are we so desperate that we will lower our standards just to get on TV. This portrayal just set us back 30 years....jeez... Have you seen how Mongoloid is the new R word. these actresses play a part in this. I guess it's their choice but you would hope that their agents would have demanded better. I just wish someone would advise them that they represent a dwindling portion of our society and negative portrayals aren't helping their resumes or paychecks not to mention the lives of many to come.

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    1. your opinion is undeveloped. have you bothered to watch either of the shows mentioned here? the overall storylines might be flawed, but both actresses with down syndrome are given developed, complex parts to play, not all of which have to do with down syndrome. instead of "setting you back" their acting and portrayals are moving you forward, showing that individuals with down syndrome are more than capable of not only being professional, but talented and intelligent as well. sounds more like jealousy to me.

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    2. It is clear to the audience that by modern standards what Constance says is ignorant and painful. I hope I do not spoil you too much to say that Constance's terminology and treatment are "appropriate" of her era.

      No one is being degraded here, the show is by no means endorsing backwards thought. And the young actress that plays Adelaide is the most refreshing actress to come across MY screen in a long time. She gives a very good, very funny, very sassy and specific performance. It would be a shame for you to not see it because you have your arms crossed in judgment before seeing the thing.

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    3. I should further point out that the show in a sense does a service to remind people that a short thirty years ago no one batted an eye at the term "Mongoloid"; when you first hear it hear it is like a slap to the face.

      How far a society can come in a short time! Let people learn, let them grow, let them mess up and them educate them a little with some kindness. I'm so tired of sanctimonious people lecturing everyone on everything. No wonder people are so tired, so defensive.

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    4. Having seen the show, the character is neither developed nor complex and comes across more as a gag or some sick homage to those old ideas. It moves nothing forward. It seems people now a days are more concerned with pretending to do so while patting themselves on the back for being so damn compassionate when whether they are or not is debatable.

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  3. No amount of intellectualizing will forgive this new low. I wish that I could "unsee" the episode. How quickly the movement for individuals with disabilities can be set-back. Very sad.
    Thanks so much, for the post.
    Meredith
    www.aspecialkid.com

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  4. I am just in love with these young ladies characters in this show. I have always been a big believer that anyone can do anything. Now I have proof to my special needs boys that they can be whatever they want to be. Thank you so much for being an insperation to my boys and myself.

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    1. Amen! You don't have to look like Barbie (or Ken) to get a gripping part in a show that millions watch. I love Jamie Brewer (Addie in AHS) and hope that I get to see her in more things in the future.

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  5. Why is it sad they are letting a person with a disability become an actor/actress??? Do ya'll not think they have the SAME RIGHTS?! Wow... whats low here is ya'lls JUDGEMENT against these individuals! Sad just sad!

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  6. What nobody is addressing is that as a character Constance obviously is a throw back to the generations who did call people with Down's Syndrome "mongoloid." While I understand why people find it insensitive it is also culturally and linguistically correct for someone of that generation to use this expression.

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  7. People need to lighten up - this is a story. Many 'characters' use degrading terms and slurs against other characters in all kinds of stories, books, movies, etc. - it's a reflection of real life; you can't stop what people think and do - even if it is ignorant and hurtful.

    Constance is obviously being shown as not such a 'nice' character and no one is 'approving' of her use of the word 'mongaloid'. There are all kinds of stories with characters using abusive & degrading words towards other (racial, ethnic, sexual, disability related and just plain MEAN things!). Stories are reflections of the world we live in, good & bad.

    So because this acress has Down's she is somehow not suppose to play an interesting, edgy character who's subject to questionable and abusive behavior from a parent? Is it only acceptable for non-Down's kids to play roles where they are the target of questionable or abusive behavior? And why? Because I bet the reasoning behind those thoughts are more degrading to the intelligence and capability of people than any stupid word used by an ignorant and ficticious character on TV!

    It is exactly these kinds of restrictive boxes and thought processes that prevent people from all areas of life from being treated equally and as HUMAN BEINGS - not a label (Down's, Black, White, Woman, Man, Minority, Disabled, etc).

    The character of Constance is suppose to elcit uncomfortable and upsetting emotions in the audience.

    I applaud this young lady for playing a real character, not afraid to show all sides of human nature. And if you continue to watch the episodes you will see she is NOT just a 'creepy set dressing' as Hit Fix's review states - she is actually a complex character with her own secrets just as all of the other characters on this show.

    Why not see the actress as a person doing a helluva job instead of trying to label her and restrict her based on the fact that she also happens to have Downs Syndrome?

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  8. I just love this character and actress!! I agree that some of the material can seem offensive but I feel it is realistic. Not everyone with downs gets a supportive mother and father. They are like everyone else. They don't all come from loving supportive homes. Constance seems bipolar and I think she acts as such. As for the person who posted "they are letting a person with disabilities become an actress?". Well...HELLO? Did you think they would get just anyone to play someone with DOWNS? They have to have someone with DOWNS play someone with DOWNS!!

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  9. So you people are mad because Addie is called a mongoloid?
    Listen, my brother has Downs. Yeah, people like that are a bit slow, but not stupid. These actors and actresses with mental disabilities are all smart enough to know that they're acting! And Ms. Brewer is doing a fantastic job. She's my favorite character on the show. & I agree with the comment above. I'm sure all of you would be criticizing the show if Jamie DIDN'T play Adalaide and someone without Downs tried to. If having people like her play rolls on TV/Movies is doing anything, it's showing people that the mentally disabled aren't "retards".

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  10. I agree...Addie is merely playing a part. The comments of Constance as simply a part of the role. She is playing the part of a person of the time. My 20 year daughter has Down's and when she was born the only way to get my, then 65 year old, grandmother to understand what was wrong with my daughter was to explain that she was what she would have referred to as a "mongoloid" Come on people, it's acting, a script, it makes it more realistic of the time Constance was from. Jamie Brewer is showing the world that it's doesn't matter what your challenge is, you can do whatever you put your mind to! Kudos to her!

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  11. First of all, Constance is stuck in the 1960's. Which would simply be realistic attitude then. Also, the truth is most parents will not be happy to have a child with a birth defect. jamie is a wonderful actress, tackiling a role with difficult truths. Far from setting things back, they are giving jamie a REAL role. Not a cutsey feel good role. This is actually immense progress.It is far from being a slur. It is respect. It means that they realize that the attitudes are there, and know that Jamie is talented enough to actually handle the difficulty.

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  12. lollipop4598 is exactly right.

    I will take Jamie Brewer in American Horror Story over Sean Penn's academy award winning role in the lame "I am Sam" any day. It's great to see a down's syndrome person have the opportunity to play a "REAL" role, where the writers of the show treat the actress like an adult (which she is), rather than a perpetual child that needs to be protected from the meanness of the world. Kudos to the writers/creators of this ground-breaking show.

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  13. Are you all kidding? Thinking that this is degrading? I have a disability too and Jamie is making me know that you can show people that you are more than your disability. She is brilliant...it's the same as being african american and playing a slave, to show how ridiculous people can be, it is proving a point, not degrading or making fun at all. Look at her fan pages, she gets nothing but praise. I'm so proud of her and showing how wrong people are by judging people by their cover. I love how she shows the horrible-ness that can come from having a disability, and how you can overcome injustice, be happy, and live life. It's sad that her playing a part is judged, especially since I have CP and my sister has downs. I can only hope to educate others as she has.

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  14. Anyone who's made it to the fourth episode in this series will understand that Jamie's character is amazing, and Jamie is doing a fantastic job in the role.

    It's *really obvious* that the degrading references to "mongoloid" are intentional and designed to make the audience uncomfortable, and as the series progresses you begin to see that Jamie's character is quite a bit more rounded than Jessica Lange's Constance allows her to be. Hence the dramatic tension.

    For those of you who are critical of Jamie's character, I'd suggest watching the entire series to see how she evolves. It's a ringing endorsement for the abilities of folks with Down Syndrome, and Jamie is sure to continue getting work after this series. She's great.

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  15. I mean this show is about a bunch of bad people, and ghosts, and murder. We can't let one slur sully our perspective of this actress. The character who uses the term mongoloid is a very uneducated southerner who is probably a racist as well. She is just a nasty lady and all they are doing is portraying the character.
    If an axe murderer calls a woman a slut we don't criticize the show for being chauvinist. Cause honestly no one cares what the opinion of an axe murderer is.
    Jamie Brewer is a great actress and Adie is a sympathetic character. Probably the only one in the whole show.

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  16. I have a 40-year-old daughter with Down's Syndrome and to be honest, I take offense at the assumption that 'back in the day', parents of children with Down's were unenlightened and uninformed as a whole. Who do you think fought for services for these children and demanded equal treatment and respect under the law? Do you think all that happened by accident? You should thank us older parents instead of viewing us as inferior (as many seem to do). Sorry for the rant, but that's a sore point with me.

    I haven't seen every episode of this show but I've seen enough to have mixed feelings about it. I truly believe it reinforces the belief that people with Down's are "creepy" or "not like us". I offer this blog post as evidence, taken from the website: http://hdoubleg.tumblr.com/post/12186718469/literally-less-than-a-full-minute-into-american-horror. This person made a list of "creepy-ass things" that have appeared on the show and one of the things listed was this:

    "a little girl with Down syndrome (this sounds offensive, but I just mean in scary movies/TV, shit gets BUCK when they’re around)"


    (BTW - "gets buck" means "gets crazy/nasty".) Do you think the character of Adelaide doesn't reinforce negative stereotypes? Think again. Don't fool yourself into believing this blogger is an anomaly. He doesn't see an actress named Jamie Brewer playing a role - he just sees 'one of them' and shows like this aren't helping to change that attitude.

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  17. He doesn't see an actress named Jamie Brewer playing a role - he just sees 'one of them'

    He's not alone, I'm sure; there are many others who share his opinions, such as they are, but please be aware that there are also many who don't.

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  18. Well, if any of you guys caught up with the show, you would know that the character of Addie became a very rounded, three dimensional, and lovable character. Her mother is not the best mother, obviously. But even Constance's relationship with her is very complex and at the end of the day, she loves that girl with all her heart, but has too many walls to properly show it most of the time. It is a very complex and interesting show, especially when it comes to the family dynamic.

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  19. I think the show is great. I've seen all the episodes thus far. If anything, it says to me that, those who have this condition are more aware(and willing to be aware)of what all is happening around them than we think. Note that all the "norms" are desperately trying to rationalize every odd thing. While Addy knows and sometimes tries to share the truth.

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  20. My God finally this society is open up their eyes to them to the place they (people with some condition) belong too, the place a lot of time we "normal people" take out from them and they let us see how amazing things they can do and such a naturally way to act as Jamie and Katelyn did...sorry about my english...they are amazing angels

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  21. The mother is not meant to be a character you would want to emulate. Plus Tate called Zachary Quinto's character a homo.

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  22. I can see your concerns with the term "mongoloid", but it is just a line in a show. It does not represent genuine feeling. Does this mean that every black actor should not be in a show in which the "N" word is used? Does this mean that every homosexual actor should not be in a show in which the "F" word is used or the term "homo". No, it does not. Acting is acting. Fake is fake. This show is fake. Plus the character Adelaide was a beloved character. Everybody loved who she was both on the show, and the viewers who are watching the show. They're not giving people with down syndrome a bad name. If anything it's giving them something to be proud of, since despite a disability, she was still a heavily embraced character with a strong personality and a unique intelligence. I wish the writers would have kept her on the show longer.

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  23. At first I was excited to see another actress/actor on t.v. who had Ds but I ended up not watching the show again after only one episode. I hate how they portrayed Down syndrome and individuals who have it on this show. I hate the way they made the mothers character towards the daughter. I felt true anger when the mom went off on her and said how everyone looked at the and felt pity for the mom... such distasteful writing and out of date reality's of Ds.

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  24. Jaime Brewer is beyond talented, she's smart and intelligent and this shows so well. Despite that her character's mother is set in the 1960 (when back then, unperfect children where an absolute shame to the family) she is, by far, the only normal person in this series. Adelade warns everyone and anyone and despite her mothers poorly developed vocabulary, she loves her mother regardless. It also is very clear in the halloween episode that Constance loved Adelade dearly when she trys to get back on Violet for encouraging her to be a pretty girl. Regardless, my beautiful little sister has down syndrome and watching Jaime and katelyn play this complex roles is nothing more than encouraging and enlightening to those who believe that people born with this disability are capable of anything less. I think some people are just afraid of anything but what they've been told, having a child with down syndrome is OK and treating them as any other person is OK. It's time to stop being afraid, stop tip-toeing, stop being so arrogant and get with the times.

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  25. i just seen Jamie Brewer for the first time in American Horror story and i think she looked fantastic, who cares shes a bit different for want of a better phrase, surely acting is about portraying a character, a fantasy, who is anyone to say that "norma " people have the rights over the roles in the moving image?

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  26. I do have to admit, I was a tad floored when I watched American Horror Story and heard the things Constance said to and about her daughter.....but then again we live in such ridiculously touchy times where people are more worried about words than ACTIONS..... I was very sad to see Adelaide killed off, but as I continued with the show and realized what was going on, I was happy to see that Jamie Brewer would definitely still have a significant part to play in this show. I freakin love her quit wit and the way she delivers her lines.

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  27. Addy was my favorite character and it had nothing to do with her having Down's. she was the most purehearted, kind and lovable character in the show and Jamie did a magnificent job portraying her.

    this coming from an unbiased person who doesn't have Down Syndrome. so all of you who think otherwise should calm down, both actresses did a stellar job. i hope this opens even more doors them.

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  28. I just watched this show and think the character played brilliantly by jessica Lange is frightening, wounded, flawed, and all her rantings say more about her character than about her daughter Adelaide played fantastically by Jamie Brewer. She is meant to be such a character. When we see a racist character, or a violent or sociopathic character, it is fine, it is part of the story. Jamie Brewer is incredibly talented and brings such humanity to the role. She has Down Syndrome, so what! Her character has Down Syndrome, she's not there for set dressing, it's a very 3 dimensional role.

    GO JAMIE BREWER, all power to you!

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  29. I like the show so far and I love Jamie Brewer's character. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't torn. There were a few episodes where I almost turned off the show because it was almost to painful for me to watch the way the characters treated addie. I was terribly hurt when they killed her off as I think she should have stayed an active character in the show.

    I think it is great to see someone with Down's getting a chance like this and I think it will be a shame if she is not used again in other productions, or even on American Horror Story.

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  30. People on here commenting negative opinions about the "mongoloid" comparison obviously haven't seen where Constance, the mother of Addie, feels sorrow and sheer dissapointment in herself. "You are a pretty girl, adelaide." After the death of Adelaide, the mourning leaves Constance in an interpersonal battle between guilt and sorrow.

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