Non-disabled actors continue to be cast over disabled actors to portray disabled characters, and disabled storylines are told from an able-bodied perspective. This paper explores how Only Murders in the Building set an example for approaching projects featuring disabled actors and roles while maintaining a complex storyline in the episode titled "The Boy from 6B" (2021).
Analyzing this episode through the lens of the classical idea of anmut shows how it subverted the typical viewing experience of watching a storyline that features disabled characters from an able-bodied perspective. Anmut, as a rhetorical concept, recognizes that the value of physical characteristics is socially constructed; a body can be just as desirable in one cultural setting as it can be undesirable in another.
To illustrate this point, anmut creates the space for reconsidering disability by bringing social reactions and underlying assumptions about the human body and physical diversity to the forefront. Only Murders utilized this concept in “The Boy from 6B” by casting a deaf actor to play a deaf character and placing the viewer in the character’s world by removing their sense of hearing and their reliance on sound.
The result is a more powerful connection between the viewer and the disabled character. Further, when compared to the movie Music (2020), directed by singer Sia—which features a disabled protagonist—Only Murders stands out by reattributing complexity to a community that is often portrayed reductively and by asking the audience to step, for thirty-one minutes, out of their abled body.
Reitz, Lauren E. and Herr, Monika Shehi
"The Boy from 6B: How Only Murders in the Building Created Groundbreaking Television,"
University of South Carolina Upstate Student Research Journal: Vol. 15, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/uscusrj/vol15/iss1/5