‘This Close’ made its debut in 2018 as the first Hollywood TV series to have deaf writers, producers, and creators. The show revolves around Kate and Michael, best friends who are also deaf. Creators and writers Shoshannah Stern and Josh Feldman play them, and they’re deaf in real life too. Season Two of “This Close” includes eight half-hour episodes continue to follow Kate and Michael as they navigate a hearing world and the roller coaster ride that’s their friendship.
‘This Close’ excels in showing what it’s like to be deaf, like when Michael is hospitalized in the first episode of the season. He’s wheeled somewhere without being told the destination. He signs, “Where am I going? Tell me where I’m going! Tell me now!” When he rips out the IV line in his hand, the orderly straps his hands down, cutting off his ability to communicate.
Meanwhile, Michael’s boyfriend and Kate are looking for him. “How do you lose someone?” he asks. Kate inquires whether there’s a note in his file that says he’s deaf. “Why is this taking so fucking long?” she asks. “Where’s the interpreter?”
Alas, because it costs double to get an interpreter that time of night, the hospital is probably waiting, Kate surmises. She threatens to call the ACLU and calls the situation a violation of Michael’s civil rights. The hospital employee tells Kate not to threaten her.
“It’s not a threat,” says Kate. “It’s not my first rodeo. Happens every time.”
Viewers with hearing loss will be able to relate to various scenarios portrayed on the dramedy series, like having a hearing parent, a bad interpreter at work, or even having hearing aid batteries die at the worst possible time.
The show also cleverly utilizes sound as a way to bring hearing viewers into the world of hearing loss. At the beginning of Episode Two: “No Place Like Home,” for example, Kate is in her childhood bedroom where there’s no sound. Her mom comes in and with muffled speech, tells her to put her hearing aids on. Kate holds up a finger as she waits for them to turn on. When they do, we hear the sound too.
“The show also cleverly utilizes sound as a way to bring hearing viewers into the world of hearing loss.”
There are recurring characters from Season One like Nyle DiMarco who – in a stretch – plays a deaf model, and Marlee Matlin, who plays Michael’s mother. More #deaftalent appears in Season Two, like Millicent Simmonds and John P. McGinty.
Hearing actress Camryn Manheim, who is fluent in sign, plays Michael and Ryan’s therapist. Other well-known hearing actors make appearances, somehow lending this series more legitimacy, like Marcia Cross, Lisa Rinna, Margaret Cho, Steven Weber, and Dot-Marie Jones.
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Can’t wait for you to see how @milliesimm joins our lil #ThisClose family. Shosh and I went to see a quiet place in theaters and the entire time, when we weren’t freaking out, we kept saying we have to write something for her. And we did. Can’t wait for you to meet Emmaline.
“This Close” doesn’t shy away from tough topics like addiction. Michael spirals downward through the course of the season and has to face the fact that being deaf and gay doesn’t exclude him from needing help.
“As deaf people, we often can be treated a particular way by others because of our disability,” Feldman told the website them. “But we thought it was important to acknowledge that sometimes we can use that as a crutch to get away with certain things.”
Feldman continues to comment on how the characters in “This Close” have more layers to them than the typical deaf character in other TV shows and why this change is important.
“People with disabilities often don’t get to be fully three-dimensional in movies/TV, because if they’re being written by people who don’t have these disabilities, of course, they’re oftentimes held to a different standard,” Feldman said.
Season Two ends with several plot lines up in the air. Unfortunately, there is no Season Three news to share at this time, Joy Phillips, Vice President of AMC Networks, which owns Sundance TV, told HearingLikeMe.
To watch “This Close,” head to Sundance TV/Sundance Now. This is also where any streaming news will be posted.