February 19th, 2010
06:31 PM ET
4 years ago

‘Family Guy’ actress defends portrayal that irked Palin

(CNN) - The actress who lent her voice to a character with Down syndrome on a recent episode of Fox's "Family Guy" is defending the portrayal against attacks from Sarah Palin.

Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress who herself has Down syndrome, said the scene was merely meant to be sarcastic.

"I guess former Governor Palin does not have a sense of humor," she said in an e-mail to the New York Times. "I thought the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' was very funny. I think the word is 'sarcasm.' In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life."

In Sunday's episode, a teenaged female character with Down syndrome told another character that "my mom is the former governor of Alaska." A song and dance routine by another character also used language that ridiculed people with disabilities.

Palin, whose 22-month-old son, Trig, has the genetic disorder, said on her Facebook page Monday that she was too angry to offer a coherent response so she had her daughter, Bristol, release a full statement on the family's behalf.

"People are asking me to comment on yesterday's Fox show that felt like another kick in the gut," Palin, a Fox News contributor, wrote. "Bristol was one who asked what I thought of the show that mocked her baby brother, Trig (and/or others with special needs), in an episode yesterday. Instead of answering, I asked her what she thought. Here is her conscientious reply, which is a much more restrained and gracious statement than I want to make about an issue that begs the question, 'when is enough, enough?'"

Bristol Palin's statement was posted below her mother's Facebook entry, which read in part that the joke "hurt too much for us to remain silent."

"People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you'll ever meet," wrote Bristol. "Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them?"

Speaking to the New York Times, Friedman also said she did not view the joke as an insult.

"It's not really an insult. I was doing my role, I'm an actor. I'm entitled to say something. It was really funny. I was laughing at it. I had a nice time doing voiceover. It was my first time doing a voiceover, and I had fun," she said.


Filed under: Popular Posts • Sarah Palin
soundoff (314 Responses)
  1. ray

    for the love of god. why are you morons at cnn covering this other moron???

    February 19, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  2. AJ

    I don't get it. The actress says she doesn't see a problem with it and Palin doesn't have a sense of humor. She then says that her parents taught her to laugh and that "laughing is good."

    I'm no fan of Palin running for political office, but Andrea Friedman (even though she has Down syndrome) is not the authority of what is funny. This joke is about Palin's own child, and the tone here is: Palin should laugh about it because it's sarcastic.

    Sorry, but as a new parent, if someone is making fun of my kid, I'm not laughing. I watched this episode, and this Down syndrome character was not a nice person. How is the Alaska line sarcastic here? How is it even funny?

    If anything, it's meant to induce a cringe. And that's what McFarlane wants. Family Guy gets in the news which means more publicity for the show. That's smart business and I get it. What I don't get is people not understanding Palin's anger. You don't have to like the women (I would never vote for her) but to have her Down syndrome kid portrayed negatively on a cartoon just to get ratings? That's seedy. Bad form. Good business, but bad form.

    February 19, 2010 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  3. sherry

    Palin uses this and anything else she can to stay in the limelight.
    She can spew forth her vile and lies , saying that our President pals with terrorists.....but someone says something she doesnt like and off with their heads!!!..........She is as phony as they come

    February 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  4. Not a Fan

    I am amazed that Ms Palin is so offended by a cartoon, yet defended Rush Limbaugh's use of the "R-Word" as sarcasm.

    This is one of the biggest problems with the political arena today - it is okay of "our side" uses a derogatory term, but not if "their side" does. We need leaders and people in positions of influence to find a way to work together to recapture what America has lost. This petty bickering is most definitely not the way to solve the problem.

    February 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. AJ

    Palin is really a retard. Maybe she should stop trotting her kids out for her own personal gain.

    February 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  6. NVa Native

    The problem here is that Palin has a very different opinion of what a "normal life" is compared to the majority of Americans who see her as a complete wacko. Then if you ad in that she will apparently do or say anything for a buck and she is a confirmed wacko. She has no problem with Limpball or other Republican/Fox celebrities trashing people with disabilities, or a different skin color, economic or social status, or different whatever.
    So she is a hypocrite who fits in very well with the rest of the majority in the Repub party.

    February 19, 2010 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  7. Branden

    Sarah Palin needs to just relax. She is only trying to attract attention by using her disabled son as a ploy which is much worse than what Family Guy did. I watched that episode and got a pretty good laugh, not because the girl had a disability, instead because she was a very rude and obnoxious girl -it reminded me of Palin-. Comedy is just that, comedy! People are ruining our freedom of speech with these consistent attacks on such material as this.

    February 19, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  8. David Snow

    Isn't Family Guy on Fox?

    February 19, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  9. Kari

    C'mon now. If Palin says it's wrong, it's wrong.

    February 19, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  10. Person

    You forgot the last few lines of her statement:

    "In my family we think laughing is good. My parents raised me to have a sense of humor and to live a normal life. My mother did not carry me around under her arm like a loaf of French bread the way former Governor Palin carries her son Trig around looking for sympathy and votes."

    February 19, 2010 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  11. Sadie

    This young woman is right, it was sarcasium and Palin said it was OK for Limbaugh to use the R word in sarcasium, if it is OK for Limbaugh to say the word (Retarded) then anyone can say it or use it as long as it is used the way this Retarded man Rush Limbaugh used it.........and you can't have it both ways Palin so suck it up and shut up......

    February 19, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. J from Texas

    If there had not been the line 'I am the daughter of the former governor of Alaska' would we have even herd a word from her, I think not.

    February 19, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  13. tricia

    I saw it, she was smarter than the character Chris. People need to see the Perry Brothers. They are funny. They say "Hi, we're the Perry brothers, one is retarded and the other one has downs." Palin's need to crawl back that rock and stay there.

    February 19, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  14. Will

    Did she forget to ask her daughter to write a response on her hand for her?

    February 19, 2010 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  15. Will

    Did she forget to ask her daughter to write a response on her hand for her? And has she ever said ANYTHING coherent in her life?

    February 19, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. John

    Unfortunately, what one views as sarcasm another can view as an insult. Why even tempt controversy? And using an actress with down syndrome certainly does not make Fox's "Family Guy" any less guilty of bad taste.

    February 19, 2010 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. ThinkAgain

    "Andrea Fay Friedman, the actress who herself has Down syndrome, said the scene was merely meant to be sarcastic."

    It will be interesting to see whether and how Palin will react to this. She (Palin) may end up siding with the PC Police – wow, that would really make her head explode!

    February 19, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  18. Joe in PA

    I love how when Rush Limbaugh uses that kind of language, it's considered "satire" but when a satirical animated show does something similar it's all about "Are there any limits to what some people will do or say in regards to my little brother or others in the special needs community?"

    Why don't you ask your buddy Rush about that...

    February 19, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  19. usualone

    I still find it amazing and appauling that Palin has her daughter speak out. That says so much about her character. She is okay at blasting the Democrats; but she cannot handle this situation all by her self.

    February 19, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  20. Kyle, Virginia

    Palin = fail

    February 19, 2010 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. rob

    Now that I know that the actress playing the part has Downs Syndrome, it puts a little bit of a different spin on it. I don't know.

    February 19, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. jim

    Gee. It was kinda funny when "Rushbo" mocked Michael J Fox. Remember: satire, joking around, didn't mean anything by it?

    February 19, 2010 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. Doug,lib jersey

    The first letter is right H, but its hate not humor from these types of people. Imagine saying a joke that they could use against you poltically, and you see them for who they truly are, unobjective, double standard loving, hate-filled hypo-crats.

    They dont deal with reality, which is why they do things like send their libs to a Palin speech to yell "kill him" when she metioned Obama, or how the lib loon bombed the DNC headcorders in Colorado just to say a right winger did it.

    This sounds like something you read everyday on the ticker from Obama-bot lib clones; "The recent presidential puppet GW Bush and his cronies in their eight years certainly reinforced for all of us that this criticism rings equally true for all of the government".

    I suggest you research who said this to see how dangerous these Democrats really are. Also, think about why no one is metioning this part of his bs rant, yet if he metioned Obama instead of Bush, it would be the headline and talking point of the story on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, New York Times, AP, NPR ETC, and linked to the tea party movement/Sarah Palin/ and other targets of their National Socialist style hate in a nano-second.

    February 19, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  24. Lydia

    What gets me about this isn't that Palin was upset at Family Guy, but that she's acting like they're only picking on her. Family Guy makes fun of everyone and everything–it's called satire. Where was Palin when the Oompa-Loompa-lookalikes were singing a song about people in wheelchairs? Or when they aired the episode where Peter was diagnosed as mentally retarded? It's one thing to lack a sense of humor–this is just a flat-out persecution complex.

    Off the top of my head, Family Guy has made fun of: black people, white people, Hispanic people, Asian people, British people, rich people, poor people, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, the Irish, Southerners, a multitude of individual celebrities, celebrities in general, fat people, skinny people, fashion models, people who adopt kids from other countries, feminists, lesbians, gay men (and dogs), Democrats, Republicans, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and–yes–people with disabilities, mental and physical.

    The reason they make fun of people isn't to mock them for being different, but to illustrate how ridiculous it is for us to mock people for being different.

    February 19, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  25. John

    Go Family Guy--–To Ms. Palin-–Its a cartoon--go after something of importance like health care for everyone-

    February 19, 2010 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
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