Goodness where has the time gone and it’s February already! I know I’m a little late in the write-up for the remaining Life’s Too Short episodes, but the series has provided me with some food for thought since finishing.
Generally speaking it’s seems the sitcom limped to the end and the response from the public and the dwarf community wasn’t that great or well-received, depending on which side of the fence you sit. However, I think a show that can simultaneously make you cringe, laugh out loud and make you want to shout at the TV deserves a little more recognition.
What?!? I hear some of my dwarf and disabled readers say.
Hear me out.
For me Life’s Too Short was an almost near representation of all the aspects of the dwarf community that I have come across. You’ve got your vile, big-mouthed characters chip-on-their shoulder individuals, the quiet but effective communication of the underlying cause of the Short Statured Society in highlighting the inequalities that people with dwarfism face, the day-to-day difficulties we face with our surroundings and people we encounter and how frustrating that can be.
At the time I hung my head for the first few episodes in abject disappointment; appalled that all stereotypes were reinforced and was actually scared at one point for the repercussions we would face in the street if some clever-arse thought it would be funny to place a dwarf in a toilet or be left in a bin because “…Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter’s characters thought it was ok”… hmmm.
Comedy is cruel. To my mind there is two types of comedy, one that mocks people because of who they are and there’s situational comedy. I personally prefer the latter and the former doesn’t sit well with me. I do wonder if such sketches would have made it through BBC’s editorial guidelines had this been a comedy poking fun at someone because of the colour of their skin or if it was because they were being treated/displayed in such a way if the character was in a wheelchair, deaf or blind?
That said, if there had been no The Office, if Ricky Gervais wasn’t so central to the premise and promotion of the show, could this sitcom have been an apt social commentary and brief insight into, not only what it is like living as a dwarf in society and the challenges and ignorances we face, but also the first comedy for us dwarves to be actually, freely to be able to laugh at ourselves? To relate and laugh at the absurdity in the situations faced by Warwick’s character that mirror our own experiences in life? And that was the gem of Life’s Too Short for me. To be able to laugh along with the side-stares at the camera when Warwick looks as if to say ‘…what did this idiot just say/do?!?” as I have done so many times I’ve lost count. The last half of the series was much stronger than the first.
The best characters were definitely Warwick and the lovely Kiruna Stamell, who played potential love-interest Amy. While Warwick’s character was mostly vile (and would be considered so regardless of his height), it was heartening to watch the relationship build and fall with Amy who wouldn’t tolerate Warwick’s behaviour.
My only request for any other production companies looking to commission other dwarf series – please can we have a dwarf comedy that doesn’t have such a ‘little man syndrome’ character and normie actors who aren’t so quick to reinforce stereotypical behaviour towards us dwarves. Yes, I’m talking about you Johnny Depp.
On a superficial level, this sitcom still portrays the dwarf as the butt of the joke, but thankfully it showed the lack of height with being human. That a dwarf can be just as fallible as an average-height person. That not all dwarves have the same intentions as one or two self-centred personalities, even if we all need ‘big’ personalities to get noticed in this life. Life’s Too Short gave its audience the ability to see the human side of dwarfism – which isn’t that what all we dwarves’ ask for in this world?
Over to you…