A Fine Romance

By Alston, Joshua | Newsweek, October 18, 2010 | Go to article overview

A Fine Romance


Alston, Joshua, Newsweek


Byline: Joshua Alston

To Monica and David, no aspect of the American Dream is off limits.

Who among us can resist a tale of all-consuming true love? Within everyone there is a true romantic, a cellular understanding of how intoxicating, maddening, and life-affirming love can be. The courtship of Monica and David is that kind of love story. He met her in class and was instantly smitten. She rejected him at first because she had a boyfriend, but he persisted. Now they're married, and completely stuck on each other. He calls her his Winnie the Pooh, and he's her Prince Charming. The rub, because all love stories come with one, is that both Monica and David have Down syndrome. Marriages between people with Down syndrome were unheard of in the mid-'80s, when the life expectancy for those with the disorder was 25. That age has risen to 60, and with it, the desire of those with Down syndrome for companionship.

The wedding and the happily-ever-after are chronicled in Monica & David, the Tribeca Film Festival-winning documentary that airs Oct. 14 on HBO. It's a refreshing and rare story for television. A just-released study revealed the dearth of characters with disabilities on television. The only recent examples of characters with Down syndrome include Glee's Becky Jackson, one of the school's mean-girl cheerleaders, and a controversy-courting depiction of a rude and demanding love interest for Chris on Family Guy. In that sense, Monica & David is a triumph--and not just for them.

Monica and David's parents provide the story's conflict with the inner turmoil they experience as they begin to cede control to the children they've spent years caring for. …

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