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. Me

    Give me a break, it is a stupid cartoon. Just another way Palin got into the spotlight by complaining about it. I personally do not care for the show, but my husband watches it and 99 percent of the jokes on there are crude and make fun of someone. I mean, there is a crippled cop on there that they make fun of constantly, I don't see anyone complaining about that! Good for Andrea for speaking up for herself!! SHe is a talented actress despite her disability and should not feel badly because of what the Palin family has said.

    February 19, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Socialism...keeping police/fire stations, roads, justice system and the military out of the hands of Capitalists

    The actress doing the voice actually has Down Syndrome!? No way! Talk about irony. I can't wait to see the Palin's comments that this actress was being used and manipulated by "Family Guy".

    February 19, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. indy

    The only reason Governor Palin's name was used was because she's known. There are lots of parents of kids with Down Syndrome or other developmental problems and those names aren't used. I'm just curious as to whether is was a famous Democrat like the Clinton's or Obama's if the name would have been used just for sarcasm. It's one thing to be sarcastic or funny about Governor Palin, it's another to inject her children into the comedy.

    February 19, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. CurtisM

    I'm guessing that Sarah Palin doesn't know anything about the "Family Guy" tv show. Which surprises me as it is a Fox TV show.

    IT is NOT a politically-correct show, everything and everyone has been targetted at one time or another.

    Satire anyone?

    I won't even mention good taste.

    February 19, 2010 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. sd

    I, like most americans, detest Palin. She is a two faced hypocrite who tailors events to what suits her. She wanted Emmanual to resign over a "retarded" statement but supported Limbaugh when he used the same language in the same context. She is all mouth and no substance unless you are looking for a Klan leader or some similar low life ilk. Keep your family out of polictics, you have used them enough. (According to Levi you called your son a "little retard"...if it's not true why don't you guys agree to lie detector tests, bet you'd lose).

    February 19, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  6. Alley Cat

    Palin is an insult to humanity. The only people that she appeals to are ignorant Tea Baggers.

    February 19, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Carlos

    Sarah needs SOMETHING to be outraged about to keep herself in the headlines...

    February 19, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Joel

    "Too angry to release a coherent statement"? Wow. That's presidential material right there, you betcha.

    February 19, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  9. Truth

    The next time when you're having so much fun us your own mother's name.

    February 19, 2010 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  10. Rick

    who else is sick of Palin playing the victim all the time?

    better yet,

    who else is sick of Palin, period?

    thanks a lot John McCain, you created an unnecessary celebrity.

    February 19, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. amanda

    I assume the writers of this episode would not mock an individual with a disability to their face, and I sincerely hope this assumption is right. Why then is it ok to do it in the name of entertainment on a mass media level? I guess it is easier to mock something if you can do it from the voices of fictional cartoon characters. I have a three year old with Down syndrome who has endured more challenges in her few short years than many grown adults will face in their life time. These individuals should be celebrated not undermined by perpetuating ignorance.

    February 19, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. Julie

    Sarah Palin's son having Downs is nothing to laugh at. Sure, make fun of the goofy things she herself says and does, but not the child. I am disgusted with the way her family has been treated by the media and entertainment world. This would have NEVER happened if she were a liberal.

    Sarah's fair game, but her family is not.

    February 19, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  13. Lori

    Well I guess this puts it in a different perspective now, doesn't it? Have we really become too PC?

    February 19, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  14. who cares

    Whatever – it's just another ploy by Sarah to stay in the spot light. I saw the episode and it was funny!

    February 19, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  15. ATPP

    Palin and all her moron t-bagger supporters should just go away...The fact that people would actually vote for that brainless liar in astounding. Please sarah, take all the money you are raking in from the clueless zealots, and go back to Alaska.

    February 19, 2010 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  16. Ryan

    Uh....with all due respect, I don't see how ANYONE could not interpret that as an insult directed at Sarah Palin. A pretty stupid and tasteless one, at that

    February 19, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  17. Lynn

    Palin uses her kids only for her advantage. When she thinks that might backfire, she is offended. She can't have it both ways.

    February 19, 2010 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  18. Colin, RI

    Bravo, Ms. Friedman!! I strongly oppose going around insulting those with disabilities, but have no issue enjoying a satirical view of it. This is especially true when you take into account that MacFarlane consistently crosses the line with his shows. He obviously included the "Alaskan governor" line to get under Palin's skin, and she fell for it. Palin needs to get over herself and stop using her child's disability for her own gain. That's worse than anything that MacFarlane has ever done.

    February 19, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  19. Dan In Noo Yawk

    Her anger would be better placed in an effort to learn about basic scientific research and why it could help Trigg and others like him in the future. But learning is terribly hard, and the fact that it involves understanding data seems to clash with her religious views.

    February 19, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  20. Melanie

    On CNN – you cut the best part of the quote out, "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."

    Palin is using her children for politicial and monetary gain and that is REALLY DISGUSTING!!!

    February 19, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  21. jim

    It sounds like Andrea and her parents are worthless scumbags.

    February 19, 2010 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  22. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Sarah Palins a RETARD.

    February 19, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  23. Guest

    I guess if Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck was behind the cartoon then Palin would have considered it satire. And by the way Palin, no one is safe from being skewered on Family Guy. Stop using your child!

    February 19, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  24. Shawn Hill

    So its okay for Palin to insult and make fun of liberals, democrats and obama supporters, but its not okay to make fun of her. I wish she would just go away.

    February 19, 2010 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  25. pissed

    So, as long as 1) you are doing your role, 2) it is funny, 3) you were laughing and 4) its fun to do, then it is ok? Sorry, but no. Not a fan of Palin but I completely agree with her on this one. Family guy is a stupid offensive show anyway – almost as bad as south park.

    February 19, 2010 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
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