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Stephen King and the Unlikely Hero: Creating Visibility for Folks with Invisible Disability

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I would be remiss if I did not shine my little light on a hero of mine, author Stephen King. While suspense and horror are not my favorite book and film genres, I was familiar with King’s work. But I have way too much anxiety to partake. However, his newer television series were recommended to me and I was simply blown away.

I started with HBO’s “The Outsider.” A television series based on King’s 2018 novel. It is a richly constructed tale about murder and the detectives who seek the truth behind gruesome crimes. The character development is excellent, and the character arcs are even better. The performances ring so true I was able to revel in the world they inhabited.

But the best part was the introduction of the unlikely hero, Holly Gibney. A woman who is gifted, uniquely brave, and tireless. She also has high functioning autism (HFA).

Cynthia Erivo plays Holly Gibney in “The Outsider.” She is a marvel to watch. She is the hero of the show, and she draws her signature strength from the deep well of high functioning autism that is her mind.

I cannot sing its praises enough. Please watch it! It was, at the very least, a cathartic experience for me. A mama with a new diagnosis for my daughter and then myself. When I was lost and wondering and floundering, with only negative thoughts about the HFA diagnosis, Holly Gibney gave me relief and light.

In the same way, Justine Lupe inhabits Holly Gibney in “Mr. Mercedes.” Another stunning performance, and another chance for us autism folks to see representation in cinematic art.  

If you are up to the task, I recommend you binge these series where you can.  It is our chance to see these performances that celebrate our defining differences for what they are: exceptionality, gifts, good, remarkable.

All my best,
Mama Tine