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. SH in TX

    If Rush Limbaugh did the voiceover of a Down's Syndrom charachter, I'm sure Sarah wouldn't be so angry about it. She would see it as the "satire" it was intended to be.

    February 19, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Michele from Denver


    You pimp your own family out for money so you are fair game babe!!!

    February 19, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  3. j zermeno

    I'm no fan of Palin, I'm a huge fan of comedy. How is this sarcasm? To me it seems like an inane reference with no comedic value. Its insensitive antagonism.

    February 19, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  4. Anonymous

    Laughter at someone elses expense is never funny, especially when handicapped children are involved.

    February 19, 2010 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  5. Sandy

    This is the second new site I've seen that refused to publish Ms. Friedman's entire letter. Afraid of Palin, CNN?

    "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 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. Jennifer

    Why is anyone even giving Sarah Palin the time of day? I don't watch Family Guy a lot.. the shows I've seen are just funny. The show is meant to push buttons whenever they can. What I don't understand is that how can Sarah Palin criticize the writers for doing something like that? Your parading your special needs child around like he is a prop. She had said before that her family is off limits but then you appear on the cover of a magazine with your son and your daughter and her baby? Come on now.. once you put yourself out there your basically fair game. If you want your private life stop parading your child around and stay out of the spot light. I would think the mother of a special needs child would be more at home and take care of the child as priority #1.. seems like she uses him. If I had a son with special needs I would be devoted to the child 24/7 and not putting him in the situation like she has..

    February 19, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. cg

    I usually do not agree with Palin on many points as she politically plays loose with facts and truth . But this time I feel she has a right to speak out , this was not humerous in any way shape or form, Any family that deals with mentally challegened or handicaps , knows the pain it creates and the sacrifice it entails for all family members.

    Having a sense of humor is not the point , this skit was not humerous to most people and crossed the line . I bemoan the fact that we have comics today that have no standards and believe all is fair game.

    February 19, 2010 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  8. bob

    Palin knows all about sarcasm. That's why she gave Rush Limbaugh permission to use "retarded", she said he was being sarcastic! Oh wait, maybe she doesn't know what it means after all... or else she's an enormous hypocrite. Which is it?

    February 19, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. CBR

    I think Ms. Palin and her family would benefit from a membership in a group with parents whose children have Down Syndrome. Seeing other children and working with other parents makes a world of difference. They offer informative programs and opportunities fir people to get together. She might even attend a conference or two to see what is happening in education and within the medical community.

    Perhaps Ms. Palin is unaware of the amount of media interest that was created after she was nominated for VP and her son Trig was introduced to the word. Parents who were representing Down Syndrome Societies received media coverage. Some of the interest was not welcomed and was hurtful. I did not see my son and his family or his friends whining on tv or in the media about the attention they received.Some in the Right To Life community misquoted them and caused other problems.

    Children with Down Syndrome do draw attention in the same way that other children with disabilities do. Most people are very friendly and open but once in awhile you find a person who has not realized just how much these children have to offer. I think that is a polite way of describing their actions.

    February 19, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Eric

    It's a 'sarcastic joke' that works only because a (well-known) 'former gov of Alaska has a child w/ DS'. Otherwise, the humor attempt wouldn't make sense.

    The 'joke' only exists because Trig has DS.

    Therefore, the 'joke' is at Trig's expense.

    Not sure when playing jokes on innocent toddler's became an acceptable national pastime.

    February 19, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  11. Michael B

    Sounds to me like she never even watched the episode. It was about the Griffin teenage boy falling for the girl he found most beautiful in the school, a young girl with down syndrome who he found more kind than the other young women. Then he finds out that she is really stuck up and meaner than the average girl. The obvious sarcasm is that appearances can be deceiving. The quick quip saying that she "my mom is the former governor of Alaska" was just the end of a scene and was a punchline and dig at Palin. You know it insulting, hiding down syndrome in the closet and ostracizing them from any sort of humor. Look at even the TV show Facts of Life in the 80s with the disabled actress Jerry, people were upset then about her and are upset with Andrea Fay Friedman now.

    February 19, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  12. Ted

    I guess liberal political correctness doesn't count for them. Let's make funof all the tards that did not get aborted. LOL

    February 19, 2010 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. themoi

    Finding out the actress who played the part also has Down Syndrome shows Palin can't stand satire and looks all the more to have Foot In Mouth Syndrome herself.

    February 19, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  14. Spike

    Failin Palin has her daughter Bristol to speak for her because she's too upset to stand up to a cartoon character? I hate to think if it was a world leader or a terroist ,what she would do.

    February 19, 2010 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. I'm a Liberal-You got a problem with that?

    Palin doesn't have a sense of humor. Nor a brain.

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. Wisconsonite - Vote for Consumer Protection Regulation of the Financial Industry

    Good for Andrea Fay Friedman!

    Sarah Palin is an ignorant bigot and an opportunistic, power-mad woman who will use anyone, including and ESPECIALLY her children to try to get ahead. That was evident during the McCain/Palin campaign debacle when, every single time she was on stage or there was a camera present, she had her children in tow. Everytime she has been able to use her Downs Syndrome child to her advantage she has tried to do so. Everytime she thought she could use her unwed, pregnant, teen-age daughter to her advantage she has tried to do so. She should be ashamed of herself!

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  17. Ryan

    1. Sarah Palin is such presidential material she WATCHES FAMILY GUY..????

    2.There Palin goes again, making statements about things she doesn't know, such as the actress having down syndrome.

    3. If Rush did it, it would be "Satire".

    4. Sarah Palin is a disgrace to Women... and the English language.

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  18. Mike

    I wonder if it would be funny to liberals if we talked about michelle nobama having a small top and large bottom being shaped like a light bulb.

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  19. Deanna in PA

    We really don't care what you think anymore.

    Democrate from PA

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  20. Mike

    Let me start off saying that I love "Family Guy", and have watched the show since it came on the air. However, I think that Seth McFarlane and company have really been pushing it with their sense of humor lately. The anit-semitism displayed on his live variety show is a great example (just because you have a Jew playing along doesn't make it right). I've also noticed that as he tries to become edgier and more political the show becomes less funny. I watched this episode and there was very little in it that was actually funny. Comedy is being sacrificed for political statements. The show works better when he sticks to d*ck and fart jokes.

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  21. Sandy

    Sorry, I mean to say that CNN is afraid to publish Ms. Friedman's full "quotes" about Palin, not "letter".

    February 19, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  22. El Gordo

    Palin, like all Conservatives, can dish it out but she can't take it. She accused all Democrats of conspiracy to commit murder with her ridiculous "death panel" lies. " "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide whether they are worthy of health care," she lied.

    She lied when she said, "I didn't hear Rush Limbaugh calling a group of people whom he did not agree with 'f-ing retards,' and we did know that Rahm Emanuel, as has been reported, did say that. There is a big difference there."

    She falsely accused the Obama Administration of anti-Christian sentiment when she told this lie: "Who calls a shot like that? Who makes a decision like that? It's a disturbing trend." –Sarah Palin, pushing a conspiracy theory that "In God We Trust" had been moved to the edge of coins by the Obama administration (the change was made by the Bush administration in 2007 and was later reversed by Congress, before Obama took office).

    Some of you may be thinking, "Palin is not really lying. She is too stupid to understand the difference between a lie and the truth." Well, you've got me there.

    February 19, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  23. Paul

    Interesting. I bet she'd have a different opinion had the character been a person of color drawn with monkey-like features. Yeah, that would be sarcasm, too, right? That would be really funny, right? Uh huh.

    February 19, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  24. Charlotte, NC

    When HAS she released a coherent statement???

    February 19, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  25. Tim

    Although I do think that "Family Guy" often displays a mean, insensitive attitude–all for the sake of getting a laugh–it at least throws that mud in every direction. No person, place or thing is free from being insulted or reduced to a stereotype. Even the show's main character is a disgusting caricature of one type of white male. To criticize the show's producers for "mocking" someone with Down syndrome is to imply that's the only group of people deserving of being spared. I'd like to see ALL of the mean jabs removed from the show. The cleverness and occasional brilliance that has long been in the series would shine so much brighter without the cheap laughs that on many occasions have prompted me to change the channel.

    February 19, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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