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. Laurie

    Sarah-I believe it is satire when Rush Limbaugh says it and hunky dory when Glen Beck ridicules the disabled. Real appropriate that the actress who portrayed the character was a person with Down's Syndrome. Kudos to her. SARAH WHEN YOU ARE CHOOSING TO LABEL RUSH LIMBAUGH'S CRUEL, INHUMAN COMMENTS AS SATIRE, YOU NEED TO CONSIDER THAT FAMILY GUY IS A COMEDY, WHICH INCLUDES SATIRE. YOU, MY DEAR, ARE A HYPOCRITE.

    February 19, 2010 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. Jack

    I quit watching Family Guy a least 1 year ago when they demonstrated their ignorance and insensitivity on several other sensitive situations. I believe that we should be able to laugh at ourselves and have a sense of humor but I also believe there are boundaries on what is funny and what is sick...Family Guy is sick.

    My guess is that they, Family Guy producers, are using Ms. Friedman and really do not have any concern for the damage it causes.

    February 19, 2010 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  3. rob

    okay....Sarah is 'so upset' she has her daughter make her statement...that's what we need in a presidential candidate (2012)...someone who gets really flustered and has their children speak for them. If she can't take a joke then she's gunning (pun intended) for the wrong job. "Oh now, I can't talk about the crisis in the Middle East or the situation in Haiti because I am SO UPSET!....Bristol, why don't you take this one!"

    February 19, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  4. JC

    Doesnt Mrs. Palin want her son to exerience everything in life? In public she wants her son to be accepted in the society, but thinks that she can pick and choose how her son can be treated? Mrs. Palin, if you havent noticed, the world comes in a package, you dont get to pick and choose, you take it as a whole. In life, there is a happy moments as well as sad. We should accept life as a gift as it is and enjoy what God has given us.

    February 19, 2010 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  5. Andy

    The lowest of low-no body with a disability deserves ridicule from anyone ever this is beyond politics and stinks.Make fun of Sarah Palin OK-she asked for it .but no disabled person.

    February 19, 2010 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  6. gthomashedlund

    If Sarah Palin was "too angry" to release a statement and instead deferred to her daughter to do so, then she has no business being any kind of leader. If you want to be president of the United States, you don't let your emotions run your life. She continues to prove her incompetence.

    February 19, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  7. Cat, Holt, Mo

    Palin, if you can not stand the heat get out of the kitchen. When you get your butt out there and slam everyone else, you have to expect to get it back. So if you do not like it, go home. I hope you do, you are a disgrace to this country and all Americans. You are a moron and an idiot.
    You could not respond because you are to stupid to string together more than two words.

    February 19, 2010 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  8. Candi

    To make fun of someone with a disability is beyond words.Politics stops on this,this is not humor,it is the lowest form of being trash.

    February 19, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. Pete

    CNN omitted her best quote:

    "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."

    You go girl!!!!!!!

    February 19, 2010 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  10. Ryan Porch

    Gee, that's too bad. The woman who openly enjoys offending her political opponents and making public comments that are so off base as to be completely ridiculous is angry?! Oh, no!

    February 19, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Steph

    Bravo Ms. Friedman! I'm proud of you for speaking out on your own behalf. Not everything is as black and white as Ms. Sarah Palin, the queen of concrete thinking, says it is. Now that everyone has had their say, let's please move on. This lovely actress should keep moving forward with her career, and Ms. Palin should find something useful to do with her time. To be more specific, the former governor should find something that doesn't involved criticizing others or mocking people who haven't quite their government posts and who are working hard to move this country forward.

    February 19, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  12. get real

    This actress is better spoken than the former Gov. herself.

    February 19, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  13. mjm

    After watching the clip, there was nothing funny about it. I mean it just wasn't funny. It seemed out of place and unnecessary. It made no sense. It seemed as if the writers went out of their way to take a poke at Palin and it just didn't work.

    February 19, 2010 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  14. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Why didn't Bristol ask her Sarah Palin if she could have sex before she conceived a baby since it appears she's the one who asked her mother what she thought about Family Guy. Sounds like Ms. Friedman is more competent and secure with who she is than Palin is with her own child or herself. Great going Ms. Friedman.

    February 19, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  15. Jackalope

    Kudos to Ms. Friedman to standing up to Palin and her teabag political correctness. If anything, it is Palin who is exploiting her Down syndrome child for political gain.

    February 19, 2010 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  16. Susan

    Andrea shows more maturity and intelligence than Sarah Palin ever could. Self-promotion and pretending to be a constant victim is boring.

    February 19, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  17. Gina L

    I was taught not to say or do anything to a person, even in jest, that I would not want said or done to me. It is called the golden rule. It is common sense advice for living - treat others as you would like to be treated. In this way, even if you don't like someone, you choose not to say or do anything cruel or mean - just ignore them.

    I guess the popular humor of the day is sarcasm. I personally do not find it funny. I think that people who engage in this "humor" actually harbor contempt for the subject of their humor.

    There are other qualities such as sensitivity and compassion. I guess that's in short supply too these days, as evidenced by this latest Palin episode.

    The proper response for Palin would have been to ignore Family Guy. Those who appreciate sarcastic humor will find Palin's remarks to be the source of more sarcasm. This sarcasm, disrespect, lack of sensitivity and compassion speaks for itself.

    February 19, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  18. Drew

    Why doesn't CNN and the New York Times post Andrea Fay Friedman's entire response?

    February 19, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. Dan Holiday

    So if an episode had a little black girl character, and she said, "Yeah, my father is the most powerful man in the world...he's from Kenya", would that be funny as well? Yes it would...lol. Well, it would be to me. I guess like everything else; humor is subjective.

    February 19, 2010 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. Snowowl

    Guess she doesn't have a sense of humor. Grow a thicker skin is my only comment.

    February 19, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Truth

    What a shame. Now they are using the girl in Family guy. Why don't you tell us what you think about the dirty song that was played during the show.

    February 19, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. veronica

    Sarah Palin will use anything to keep her name in the media and this episode of Family Guy is no exception.

    February 19, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. JP

    very easy to make fun when you do not have a family member with those problems

    February 19, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. Bryan

    Funny that Palin is making a big deal about this Down's Syndrome episode; but when Family Guy made a Nazi reference to her and McCain, not a word from Palin (or McCain). Just a thought.

    February 19, 2010 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  25. Dean

    It is time for society to take a look at itself when it becomes necessary to make fun of the characteristics of certain people that are beyond their control for entertainment purposes.

    February 19, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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