This Sunday, a seeing-eye dog named Elvis will be piped into thousands of homes across America, and the Guide Dog Foundation couldn’t be more excited. A new show, “Growing Up Fisher,” is putting a unique spin on the family sitcom formula by focusing on the life of an 11-year-old boy, his blind, yet staunchly independent father, Mel, and Mel’s guide dog, Elvis.
A Story from the Heart
While this premise may set off your “gimmick” alarm, the show’s creator, DJ Nash, is actually drawing almost exclusively from his own life. “My dad went blind when he was 11 and hid his blindness (to) pretty much everyone outside the family,” said Nash.
How does a man go about trying to hide his blindness? You’ll have to tune in to find out. (One hint: in a clip circulating the internet, the blind father attempts to chop down a tree in the yard — with a chainsaw!)
Though the focal point of the show is on the son and his relationship to his parents, with a father who is just now being forced out of the blindness closet by being given a guide dog for the first time in his life, you can be certain that Mel and Elvis are going to grab their fair share of screen time.
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Why You Should Watch
Though the concept of this show is rife with fodder for comedic situations, what makes this show remarkable is the realistic way it attempts to portray the struggle of a man coping with blindness and learning to increase his independence with the help of a guide dog.
As the show begins, Mel has been relying on the aid of friends and family to get around, much to his chagrin. When his wife leaves him, Mel gets his first seeing eye dog, Elvis, and has to learn how to let a dog lead the way.
“The show clearly showcases the independence a guide dog brings to its handler – as well as the challenges guide dog handlers face every day,” said Wells B. Jones, CEO of the Guide Dog Foundation. The show aims to take a condition such as blindness, and rather than put it front and center in every way, simply include it in the show as just another aspect of life, helping facilitate a societal shift in how we view disabilities and people with them.
“The airing of ‘Growing Up Fisher’ is a wonderful opportunity to bring even more awareness to our mission to improve the quality of life for people who are blind or visually impaired,” says Jones.
The show premieres on February 23rd at 10:30pm ET on NBC, and for the visually impaired among us, every episode will also be broadcast with descriptive viewing.