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Chronic YouthDisability, Sexuality, and U.S. Media Cultures of Rehabilitation$
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Julie Passanante Elman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781479841424

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479841424.001.0001

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After School Special Education

After School Special Education

Sex, Tolerance, and Rehabilitative Television

(p.63) 2 After School Special Education
Chronic Youth

Julie Passanante Elman

NYU Press

This chapter discusses the television program After School Specials. Despite its widespread popularity, the show was ridiculed for its overt didacticism and hokey “problem novel” storylines. The series presented a disciplined vision of sexual liberation for teen viewers, combining (sex) educational value with sexual titillation. By linking heteronormativity and ability, it admonished lessons on overcoming disability, as well as heterosexual development. Moreover, the program ushered in a new openness about teen sexuality and presented a new cultural project of rehabilitation: an effort to transform the popular image of television itself by countering older fears about TV’s deleterious effects on youth with a new form of entertaining and socially responsible programming.

Keywords:   After School Specials, sexual liberation, educational value, heteronormativity, heterosexual development

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