Guest Author - Bonnie Sayers
Desperate Housewives airs on Sunday evenings at 9 pm on ABC stations. It is currently in the second season with new residents on Wisteria Lane. Betty Applewhite, played by Alfre Woodard, and her son Matthew, portrayed by Mehcad Brooks, moved in next door to Susan Mayer, portrayed by Terri Hatcher.
They are keeping someone prisoner in the basement. Sometimes Matthew brings a gun with him as they take the tray of food down the stairs. There are locks on the door leading into the basement and the actual room the prisoner is being kept.
Since Susan mentioned during one scene a few episodes back that she heard banging all night long it was apparent that the prisoner was being chained to a bed. During another scene Betty was speaking with a Psychiatrist trying to get a prescription and mentioned how she could not sleep. In the conversation Betty mentioned to the Psychiatrist that her husband had physically abused her son. The Psychiatrist asked something about the husband getting reprimanded or paying for his crimes and Betty indicated that was taken care of.
This led the viewer to believe the prisoner being held in the basement was the husband being punished for his crimes against Matthew. Turns out the prisoner is Caleb, played by Page Kennedy. The television had a news program on that was updating a crime out of Chicago that had an arrest. I was not paying too much attention to this since it was on the background scenes, but it turned out to play a vital role in what the reason is for keeping someone prisoner in the basement.
Betty was seen writing a letter at the kitchen table wearing yellow rubber gloves. She proceeded to go downstairs with a tray of food. I noticed that she did this alone without a gun present. She was questioning the person in the basement saying it was time to discuss the incident. The viewer could not really see the face of the person. Matthew came home and started calling around the house for his Mother, so Betty left the basement.
Betty did not properly secure the first door leading into the room within the basement, which was soon opened by the prisoner. While Betty and Matthew argued over the letter Betty had anonymously written, Caleb was climbing up the stairs ever so softly, yet he stopped to listen to Betty and Matthew. The letter Betty had composed was stating that the Chicago Police had arrrested the wrong person. Matthew was quite upset that Betty wanted to ruin their livelihood by bringing the police into the picture. Betty was saying the wrong person was arrested and they needed to know this.
Caleb was then shown to the viewers in a side view. He certainly seemed to be someone classified as mentally challenged. He then turned around and went back into the room closing the door behind him. Caleb had heard that the police would then come and execute him.
I did not like the way this storyline played out and find it offensive that ABC would depict a character with developmental disabilities being cared for and abused in this fashion. This is typecasting from the dark ages, not 2005 when awareness is vital for the adults that are mentally challenged.
I am not certain at this point what the delay is for Caleb, but he almost appeared to have Down Syndrome, but the biography of the actor portraying this character does not seem to have any disability, according to Internet Movie Database (IMDb.com).
It is amazing that the same network airing Desperate Housewives also brings us motivating shows that portray disabilities and the obstacles families have to face with Extreme Makeover Home Edition. A recent episode of Supernanny showed a girl with Down Syndrome having speech issues and an upcoming Episode will feature Autism on November 4, 2005.
I am quite disappointed that the show has to resort to this type of degrading portrayal of the disabled community as a whole, and then to have an African American family as the ones holding someone prisoner. This is really poor typecasting all the way around.
Perform a google search for Desperate Housewives and you will be amazed at the number of message boards and fan clubs devoted to this show. The theme for I Am Sam played magnificently by Academy Award winner Sean Penn, is " Love is all you need". My nonverbal autistic son Matthew loves the music to I Am Sam. He likes to replay the scenes when Sam is waiting outside the Hospital and gets on the bus with the baby while Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is playing.
Those who were bothered by this turn of events with the showing of the prisoner being kept in the basement being someone who is mentally challenged, retarded, delayed, what have you, should contact the network and give them feedback.
***UPDATE*** This actor Page Kennedy has been fired from Desperate Housewives due to improper behavior off set. I saw this on one of the entertainment shows and believe the next episode, November 13, 2005 will be the last airing of this actor portraying the prisoner in the basement.
Will be interesting to see if they continue with this storyline of the person being mentally challenged and whether they have started interviewing actors yet.
Desperate Housewives Actor Fired
ABC Audience Relations Dept email section.
This address is - http://abc.go.com/site/contactus.html
I Am Sam DVD is available at Amazon.
I am Sam Audio CD is now available at Amazon.
Desperate Housewives Season One is now available at Amazon.