Matlin on My Name Is Earl

I admire Marlee Matlin and the show‘s writers for its episode where Matlin played Joyce’s lawyer, Ruby Whitlow. Actually, she was in several episodes, but I’m referring to the one from November 30, “Born a Gamblin’ Man.”
I admire the writers because they scripted a funny story that addressed the sort of thing we don’t encounter in real life, but could think about it. For example, Doug — Ruby’ interpreter — covers his mouth with a notebook and tells Joy that sometimes he gets annoyed with interpreting for Ruby like when she flirts with a guy. Hilarious.
Joy, being the troublemaker (this is a family friendly site, y’all) she is, beat up the interpreter. Another time, Ruby speaks to Joy with her own voice. Joy responds with a big laugh and says, “That deaf accent of yours gets me every time.’’ Making fun of deaf people’s voices isn’t new as I’ve dealt with it from kids — but adults talking about it on a TV show is something else. Earl’s writers did a great job making it genuinely funny not “feel sorry” or “laughing at you” funny. Shows like Saturday Night Live do this all the time.
A TV Guide reader wrote to Matt Roush about one of the earlier shows in which Matlin appeared about Joy’s laughing at Matlin’s voice. I liked what Roush said: “Earl is a show that blends crude and sweet humor rather fearlessly, with little regard for political correctness or even tastefulness. If Joy’s reaction to the lawyer’s deafness was offensive, it was meant to be. But it was so extreme (as is Joy’s way) that it was also hugely funny.”
Hey, I rather kids laugh at my accent than point and stare.

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  1. Odd — this reminded me of something I’ve noticed. I’m studying another language at the moment (Welsh), and there’s more than a few Welsh-speaking actors around. Sometimes I’ll listen to interviews they do in Welsh, and I get so used to hearing them speak “accentless” Welsh that when they speka English in their own accent, it sounds odd to me.
    sort of, “Hey! Matthew Rhys has a Welsh accent! Wow!” When he speaks Welsh, the accent fades out and blends. Somehow, they seem similar — it really drives home that Englishy is a second language for some deaf folks. Different, but same some ways.

    • RLM on January 9, 2007 at 12:43 pm
    • Reply

    I enjoyed “My Name is Earl” episode with MM. It was an excellent satire of generalization toward deaf people by hearing populace.
    RLM

  2. Caught the last part of that Marlee Matlin show you speak of…Fascinated by the jabs…do you know where I could get a copy of it or its script?

  3. I am sure they will also rerun the episode. A site like TV Guide Listings include the name of the episode so watch for “Born a Gamblin’ Man.”

  4. 🙂 im still gaining my deaf accent, i dont really have one yet, i speak very clear, but when im tired that goes out the window!! 🙂

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