February 19th, 2010
06:31 PM ET
13 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. Mark

    Palin and her family continue to remind us of that spoiled, pampered beauty queen from high school that could always dish it out to anyone "below" them, but could never take it.

    This is another attempt to cry foul and act so completely affronted, making a huge issue from nothing in the hopes of staying in the spotlight.

    And the hideous offense that will ruin America? A spot on a cartoon that is already known to be completely outlandish and have a style of humor that is often summarized "I can't believe they said that!" Seriously, Family Guy is a non-issue for everyone else that they slam.

    To put it in a way the Palins might understand: "Ugh, like totally get over yourselves, or something! Whateva'!"

    February 19, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. What a Joke

    So Sarah, only you can be sensitive? Looks like someone with Downs Syndrome played the role without it being a "normal" actor. Why can't we learn to laugh instead of being so sensitive except for when it suits the purpose?

    February 19, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  3. Sarah

    My brother is severely Autistic. He is 22 years old and wears diapers. He is considered non-verbal and only makes grunting noises and yells when he is upset, or giggles when he is happy. He does lots of things that my family, and those close to us find funny and cute. That being said – when we joke about my brother and his actions I can see how someone could potentially be offended.
    If you would like to be offended for your child or friend – that is your right as a mother, family member, or friend. However – when is enough enough? I'm not talking about Family Guy – I'm talking about the level of sensitivity. They weren't being offensive in my mind. They were showing a woman who is high functioning, and who has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. Why did the character Chris break up with her? Was it because she had Down Syndrome? Was it because she was different? Was it because she had special needs? Enough is enough America! Stop crying because you – who are classified by this country are NORMAL were offended by that! The actress who did the voiceover thought it was FUNNY! She is standing by her work and did not feel insulted or made fun of!
    I can understand why people choose to not watch Family Guy. That is their choice, I myself have shows I choose to not watch. However they are an equal opportunity harasser in my opinion. They will make fun of current events, historic events in their own way. Are you offended for all of those situations? Just settle down – say "yes I was upset by that, and I do not appreciate them mocking my family". Whatever you do – DO NOT speak on behalf of an entire community that you are NOT in touch with! You do not speak for me, for my family, and you most definitely do not speak for my brother. I will continue watching Family Guy, South Park, Robot Chicken as well as one of my favorite movies – The Ringer. You can continue to cry over your hurt feelings instead of applauding the fact that the show conveyed the idea that that character was on a date and enjoying herself. I feel for the children who are kept inside and limited in what they are told they can do because they are "special needs". Shame on you for speaking out on behalf of a community of perfectly capable individuals.

    February 19, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Steve

    . . . and we wonder why our citizenry is so fed up with our politicians and the current political climate that they can see fit to fly an airplane into a federal building comocosy style.

    February 19, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Shut up

    February 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Minnesotan

    Palin is more of a cartoon character than Family Guy... and with even less credibility.

    February 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. ctom

    Sarah Palin, please stop being a hypocrite. You bash Rahm for using the term "retard" then support Rush Limbaugh when he does the exact same thing. Stop defending the disabled only when it suits your political views. Either be a defender of disabled people’s rights all the time or not at all..

    February 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Sarah has a lot of people doing a lot of things FOR her (husband Todd and daughter Bristol)and complains about the people who do things against her. Grow up, grow a thicker skin and move on if you want to play with the big dogs.

    February 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Kat

    So she has fun being rude!!!!!!
    KARMA "What Goes Around Comes Around"
    You must acknowledge and experience this part of the universe. Karma
    is intricate, too vast. You would, with your limited human senses,
    consider it too unfair. But you have tools to really, truly love.
    Loving the children is very important. But love everyone as you would
    love your children."
    – Kuan Yin
    "Still others commit all sorts of evil deeds, claiming karma doesn't
    exist. They erroneously maintain that since everything is empty,
    committing evil isn't wrong. Such persons fall into a hell of endless
    darkness with no hope of release. Those who are wise hold no such
    – Bohidharma

    February 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  10. Beeker

    Palin, 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.

    Proof that she had someone else write her FB posts in the past summer that she had to have her daughter do it for her.

    Typical Pain, I mean Palin, sprouting off before knowing the facts beforehand.

    February 19, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  11. Christa

    I was thinking the same thing. FG pretty much insults everyone. No one is safe on that show, and all you can do is laugh. I saw the show and just find it silly escapism. If the actress was not offended - then let it go.

    February 19, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Tom in Wisconsin

    Folks, don't you realize that sarcastic humor is the sole right of conservatives? As Ms. Palin has all but declared time and time again, only people on the far, far right of the political spectrum get to have free speech and say mean-spirited things under the guise of humor. That's why she defends Rush Limbaugh's right to say "retard" and mock any and all ethnic groups, and call Democrats and their families any sort of horrid name that would make sailors blush. This is a free country for Republicans. If you don't like it then move to Russia you commie retards! U – S – A! U – S – A!

    February 19, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. Sniffit


    One would hope that at some point, Palin would learn to just keep her fat yap shut. Her hypocrisy on this subject actually cheapens what would otherwise be a legitimate and important message.

    February 19, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Dieter Zerressen

    Satire from Limbaugh is OK; satire from anyone else offends the former Alaskan beauty queen. The bottom line here is Sarah doesn't know the definition of satire. "Family Guy" was satire; Limbaugh is just a nasty, illegal drug taken, Viagra popping, obese, loudmouth who talks family values from his 3rd childless marriage.

    February 19, 2010 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
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