The show has shifted from being a little more naturalistic and intimate to backhandedly pushing products like cruise lines and beverages while introducing a three year old to a cast that consists of twenty and thirtysomethings. It’s strange but, alas, growing pains.
The good is still there though: characters like Rachel are still as hungry for life and love as possible; the budding romance between Sean and Megan is suffocatingly adorable; John and his rap career are still as funny as they were; and everyone seems to be having a great time. A big part of the show is the parents of the cast, who pop in to contextualize situations and serve as empathetic sounding boards for the many problems that Down syndrome persons deal with. The magic is still there but it can get lost in the reality of making a show in 2017.
Still, one person in the non-central cast continues shines through — and has been shining — as episodes continue on and on: Kris, Megan’s mom. Kris is a fortysomething single mother who is dedicated to her daughter, serving as her manager and confidant and general shoulder to lean or cry on. She is the type of mother who is there for her daughter’s every request but, as both are aware, has the unfortunate duty of breaking dreams by micro-dosing reality to someone like Megan who wants kids and wants to be an actress and wants to be independent but can only do so much given her disorder.
But what Kris does is represent the type of zen parent that we all wish we had. Many of us have great parents and many of us love our parents but Kris is the type of parent who you wish you had as a friend, the type who is as willing to sit and talk over champagne as she is to volunteer at a soup kitchen. She is incredibly telegenic and is constantly a willing comedic foil to the cast’s follies (one minute she is stifling a date, another she is the target of date solicitations).
Kris is also so extremely guarded which is a rarity in reality television. As she shared with The Gazette during the show’s second season, it’s a risk to be so available to television but she trusts (and pressures) the show to represent them all well. It’s nice to be on TV too but, as she notes, it’s a bit of advocacy and ambassadorship regarding the experiences of the differently abled. “We worked hard with early intervention and negotiated with the school systems for years and now we’re navigating the adult system,” she said. “We’re like a lot of other families with issues.”
She also has such a sharp eye for the world, one that the other parents have but rarely articulate. A little bit in a People interview reveals it all, in reference to her helping her daughter create a tie-dye business called Megology.
“We needed something that could provide self-employment for Megan,” says Kris. “I knew most of the jobs Megan would be presented with in life involved cleaning up after people or minimal social interaction. Those wouldn’t be a good fit.”
As someone who sees the world for what it is, someone who has had relative markers of success, Kris doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for anyone. She is sympathetic, yes, but she is a fierce advocate for dignity. That’s why she’s so lovable.
Born This Way is fantastic and a never ending feel good parade but people like Kris represent an everyday realness that you rarely see on television. She’s the type of person you’d love to have in your life and, whether performed or not, she seems like she has everything in her life in order. We can all hope to be like this.