In this episode, Chelsie and the girls dish on men (sex in the chair revealed!), three of them perform hip-hop at the Abilities Expo (and overcome a move gone wrong) and Angela finally finds a casting agent who thinks she has a real shot in the modeling industry. This is my favorite episode yet (by far).
SPOILERS AHEAD ****
Episodes 7 begins with the utterly adorable (and god damn is she in good shape) Chelsie rolling up to Auti’s house for a dance practice session with Auti and Mia (for an upcoming performance at the Abilities Expo in San Jose), for their wheelchair hip-pop wheelchair dance group, Colours ‘n Motion (“Auti’s Wheelchair Dance School.” Why doesn’t this exist yet?)
I like how Chelsie admits that after injury she wasn’t interested in wheelchair dance. “I thought it looked weird.” “But then I met Auti and it all clicked.” If anyone can prove that it’s not stupid, it’s Auti.
While they’re practicing, can I just say that Mia looks overwhelmingly cute in her uber-long braided pigtails? I don’t care if she’s 33. She can pull them off like nobody’s business.
After practice, they nom on some store bought sushi as they discuss their big performance (this will be the first time many of Chelsie’s friends and family see her dance in her wheelchair). “It’ll be the first time, like, you know, instead of like on videos and stuff,” she says.
While they’re eating, Auti asks Cheslie a deep question. “What did it feel like the first time you saw yourself dancing on video?” (none of us enjoy the first time seeing ourselves in a wheelchair on video). Cheslie begins to tear up, “It’s really hard watching myself.” (burn those videos maybe?)
“I want to be able to do turns and jumps and kicks and leaps.” “I know I’m capable of doing it, but my body is not letting me, and that’s like one of the hardest things to adjust to.” “It’s just something I’m gonna have to get over,” she finally says (almost to herself in a way).
Mia has some deep words on Chelsie: “Chelsie is newly injured and she’s going through that transition phase that we all remember really well. And it’s really difficult, but it’s also a time of the self-growth, and an exciting time to really find yourself and get stronger.”
Mia reveals all she did was cry for 2 weeks straight after her paralysis (and didn’t even sleep). “I didn’t even think I’ve ever go in public again.” She tells Chelsie the biggest hurdle is getting that emotional battle out of your system.
“I understand it’s not the same,” Auti says. “But this is how you get through.” “You show people, ‘Look. I’m still here still; I have breath in my body, and dance in my legs, and whether they want to move are not, I’m gonna make this floor move.’” Chelsie gives her the biggest grin ever.
Next, we get to see the beautiful Tiphany, who goes with the girls to the Expo as their support. The girls show up in matching long sleeved black fishnet see-thru tops and knee-high Converse kicks as their costumes. Love the shoes! (for some reason Chucks always make my feet look big L ).
At the Expo, Tiphany plays matchmaker with her nephew Joshua, who’s working at the Expo, with Chelsie. “He’s been around my wheelchair for a while,” Tiphany says (her injury happened over to 10 years ago), “So I know she’d feel comfortable around him.” Very smart, Tiph.
Joshua and Chelsie meet, and the first thing you she says is his height, “Uh-oh that’s gonna be a problem,” she says (no way. My boyfriend is 6’5 and I can’t walk). You’ll be ok Chelsie-girl. Go for those tall guys.
Angela meanwhile finally scores a meeting with a casting agency. “I need a casting agent to look past my wheelchair if I’m ever going to get enough work to pay my bills,” she says before going in. They tell her she needs to get new head shots, a website (“A website? I’ve been out of the game for a long time”) and Angela asks the agent if they get a lot of work for people with disabilities. Her answer? One in the past year.
But things start looking up. The agent tells her that when she looks at Angela, she doesn’t see the wheelchair, “I see you,” she says. “Half the time they don’t get it or they don’t see it,” Angela says about possible gigs. “Well, they will once I put out an audition notice for you, and I will bring you in personally.” Nice!
Next, the girls come together for another pow-wow session before the dance performance, and Chelsie talks about dating. “I think most guys aren’t comfortable out around the wheelchair,” she says. “I feel like I can’t give a guy what he wants, like being able to walk hand-in-hand or running up to him and jumping on him.” Then she asks the girls if they’ve had a different experience since the guys they’re dating are older (and hopefully more mature). They all scoff.
Tiphany reveals she didn’t date for a year after her accident. “You need to learn how to love and accept yourself first before you can date anybody else, and that is what Chelsie is learning now.”
Chelsie complains the guys her age automatically assume she can have sex. Mia, injured as a teen too, says her self-esteem when it came to boys and dating was one of the biggest things for her to overcome. “That was the biggest concern when I got paralyzed. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, like that boy I have a crush on is never going to like me now. I thought once you’re in a chair, their sex appeal goes away.”
We find out that Mia never had sex before injury (and all the girls can’t believe it). “You mean you never masturbated before age 15,” Tiphany asks Mia in shock. Mia says nope. “I learned how to have an orgasm by age 11,” Tiphany says. Why am I not surprised by this statement? I personally think Mia is lucky in this department.
Chelsie asks if any of them have had sex in their wheelchairs. Auti’s reply, “Welcome to Auti and Eric’s bedroom.” Nice visual. “Just because I’m paralyzed doesn’t mean that I can’t orgasm,” Auti says. “Other parts of the body have becme more sensitive. Oh yeah,” she says with a smirk. Then we get a nice shot of Tiphany, while lounging on the bed with the ladies, showing them how she can spread her legs with her arms. “You’re crazy,” Chelsie says. Yes, I think I might have to agree….
Angela meanwhile travels to a photo shoot for the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, where the is photographer Christopher Voleker, who’s also in a wheelchair. Angela dresses in a beautiful light pink dress and is transferred onto a chaise lounger for the shoot. She talks about the frustrations of not being able to move her body into the poses that she used to do.
Finally we get to the end of the episode when the girls perform. Everything is going great, and then Chelsie mid-wheelie tips over and falls on her back. “Stop the music,” Auti screams, and her dad and mom rush to her side. Chelsie sits on the floor, crying. Apparently, it was her first time as tipping over like that.
After crying it out in the bathroom, she goes back out “for a team” looking fierce as ever. Auti says she’s proud of her, “She couldn’t easily let this have been a set-back.” So true. And then they try the routine again. Her dad says afterwards, “Seeing her finish that dance was one of the proudest moments I’ve ever had as her dad.”
Cheslie ends by giving a profound speech: “Auti always taught me instead of having to make yourself work for the wheelchair, you make the wheelchair work for you. And I think that’s a really big thing for me, especially what just happened. That was my first time (tipping over), and I’m sure there’ll be many other times when I fall, but that’s what life’s about, things come your way, and you got to just get back up and keep going.”
The episode ends with Chelsie having her first date with Joshua. First thing he asks her, “How’s your head?” he says with a grin. Then he hands her a teddy bear, and you’ll have to watch the episode yourself to see to see if he goes in for the kiss.
Auti making me laugh when it comes to sex, Mia’s pig-tails, Chelsie’s beautiful new journey, aaaah awesomeness overload.
What did you think of the episode? What would you have done in Chelsie’s shoes? Is Mia missing out on sex because she never felt sex “normally” before?
I thought the one of the most powerful parts of the show was seeing Angela’s photo shoot with legendary photographer Christopher Volker. He is an amazing photographer and it is a big deal to work with him.
I continue to appreciate Cheslie’s honesty in sharing her feelings as she comes to grips with her injury and learns to accept life with SCI and how the other women support her and share their feelings, like Mia sharing that she cried for two weeks when her SCI happened. It was interesting to hear the women’s frank “pillow talk” about sex—in the movie Murderball we saw this from a guys perspective.
The part I didn’t like was how the “teasers” made a huge drama out of Cheslie’s “flipping out of her chair scene” complete with dramatic music overlay, reinforcing the idea that wheelchair users are fragile and a wheelchair stumble is akin to the end of the world. It got worse when Cheslie said on the mic“That was my first time (tipping over)”… SERIOUSLY??? I was surprised the women hadn’t shown her how to pop back into her chair, this should have been one of the first moves that Auti and Mia taught her as a dancer—pop back up and “sell the tumble as something cool!” When a non-disabled dancer takes a stumble you would never see another dancer grab the mic yell “stop the music!” In my wheelchair sports experience, learning how to pop back up after a tumble is a basic skill and very cool to see–look at the movie Murderball. I
When the dance scene finally played I saw what the big deal was–when Cheslie fell she hit head first onto the concrete and had a mild concussion complete with mental confusion. Reading your review it is clear the show didn’t explain this. In my opinion it is also surprising the other women never showed Cheslie “how” to fall, keeping your head up and letting the back of the wheelchair take the impact.
Ummm–per my previous comment–In the movie Murderball we saw talk about SCI and sex from a male perspective–but it was usually over beers at a bar–not pillow talk. DOH!
Hey Bob, I actually it was going to write about the “teasers” as well (they were driving me bonkers too, until I watched the actual scene and then realized it could’ve actually been pretty serious).
Even though it’s annoying that they tried to make drama out of her flipping, that’s TV. No TV show is exempt. I do agree though that the girls should of not freaked out as much (Auti). But hey, you can’t compare the girls to the guys and murderball 😉 Women and men will always be different, even if they both have spinal cord injuries.
And those guys in murderball are pretty hardcore. I think it’s great for the female perspective to finally get its day in the sun.