This summer, Josh Sundquist’s Best Foot Forward set a new standard for amputee storytelling on TV. (If you haven’t binged it yet, head over to Apple TV+ right away.) The momentum has continued into the fall, with a handful of new shows that portray limb loss in compelling fashion.
The most recent entry, The Midnight Club, debuted last week on Netflix to overwhelmingly positive reviews. It headlines our lineup of fall TV shows featuring amputee characters. Happy viewing!
The Midnight Club
It only took a few days for this horror/thriller series to reach #3 in Netflix’s top 10. Set in a hospice for terminally ill teens, the show co-stars former TikTok sensation Ruth Codd, a below-knee amputee from Ireland. (You can’t check out her social media stuff anymore, unfortunately; Codd deleted her accounts when her acting career took off.) Like any teens, the dying protagonists of The Midnight Club care about their friends above all else; the eight main characters establish a pact that when one of them dies, they’ll attempt to contact their still-living friends from the Hereafter. This creepy premise gives rise to a lot of cheap shocks (including an inordinate number of jump scares), but it also supports some gutsy characters who keep searching for meaning in their lives, even as death stares them in the face. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Codd describes her character as “a firecracker. She has such a big personality that, most of the time, you don’t even notice really the wheelchair, which is what I hope comes across. Because, as anyone with a disability will tell you, it’s a really tiny part of them. It is a part of them, but it’s not everything.” Ten episodes; watch at Netflix.
Big Sky Kitchen
This reality cooking show on Discovery+ combines amputee chef Eduardo Garcia’s two major passions in life: fresh food and the Montana wilderness. A one-time Amplitude cover subject who lost his left arm in a 2011 hunting accident, Garcia graduated from the elite Art Institute of Seattle Culinary School and spent 10 years serving five-star meals on private yachts. Big Sky Kitchen caters to tastes that are more salt-of-the-earth than upper-crust; the first season’s six episodes emphasize fare such as pizza, reuben sandwiches, homemade flautas, and campfire cookouts. Although you can’t sample the aroma’s or flavors, the TV screen amply conveys Garcia’s sweet and spicy personality. New episode drops every Sunday; watch at Discovery+.
When it debuted last fall on NBC, this hit series became the first prime-time show on an over-the-air network to feature a central character with a limb difference. Portrayed by real-life amputee Zyra Gorecki, the character (Izzy) didn’t encounter any disability-related drama in Season 1. But that changed early in Season 2 (which debuted two weeks ago), when Izzy—who’s become trapped with her family in an Ice Age otherworld and is trying to make her way back to 21st-century Los Angeles—cracks a socket while hiking across prehistoric terrain. “It was really weird just thinking about being in 10,000 B.C. and having a fake leg and all of the garbage that goes with it,” Gorecki told TV Line. So how would you fix a busted prosthesis in a world where carbon fiber and 3D printing don’t exist? Tune in to find out. Season 2 airs every Tuesday on NBC.
Step Up: High Water
The long-delayed Season 3 of this series is finally here. It debuts on Sunday night after a three-year hiatus, with Eric Graise once again appearing as King, a wheelchair-dancing bilateral amputee. Although King isn’t a major character, the role was instrumental in launching Graise’s career. Since the last episode of Step Up: High Water aired back in 2019, Graise has appeared in three other series (Locke & Key, Teenage Bounty Hunters, and Queer as Folk). Last week, word surfaced that he’s landed a choice role opposite Justin Hartley in an upcoming CBS series called The Never Game, which is set to hit the airwaves next year. Series 3 of Step Up: High Water will be available on Starz beginning on Sunday, October 16.
This isn’t the first show in which a core character loses a limb mid-series—Grey’s Anatomy went there a few seasons ago, and it’s also happened on Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and others. But this will be the first show we’re aware of to focus on combat-related limb loss. It’s a gutsy call, because the physical and emotional journey of wounded-warrior amputees has been well covered in nonfiction formats (both film and TV) in recent years. The Paralympics also shined a bright light on the subject. If Seal Team gets it wrong or slips into clichés, people will notice. The fact that the character will be played by an able-bodied actor (Max Thieriot) doesn’t help. Here’s hoping the gamble pays off and Seal Team‘s writers deliver the realistic, nuanced portrait the subject deserves. Season 6 debuted last month, and new episodes drop every Sunday. Watch on Paramount+.