Currently contending for four 2019 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Short-Form Comedy series, the hilarious and touching Netflix show “Special” draws from series creator/writer/star Ryan O’Connell’s own reality as a gay man with cerebral palsy. O’Connell uses his frequently uncomfortable personal experiences to portray an aspiring writer and late-blooming, disabled gay man who discovers sex, career, and friendships in Los Angeles.
Below, watch a featurette exclusive to IndieWire with interviews from the cast and crew, including O’Connell and executive producer Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”), as well as series standout Punam Patel, who co-stars as O’Connell’s new bestie. The clip also features remarks from Anna Dokoza, who executive produced and directed all eight episodes — which, at about 15 minutes a piece, are easily binged.
O’Connell told IndieWire during a recent interview that the series’ Emmy nominations were a total surprise. “It’s surreal. This show was made for $2 and a prayer in Austin, Texas, in a hot summer,” he said. “It was a magical shoot. It was was sort of like a #blessed shoot. I say #blessed because when you’re doing something on a micro-budget, there are a million things that can go wrong, and they just didn’t ever go wrong.”
Of the show, which O’Connell adapted from his own memoir, he said, “I wrote the book when I was 26, so I was just kind of a dumb-dumb and I had just come out about my disability…I couldn’t talk about all the things that I want to talk about now, which is why ‘Special’ was so incredible, because I feel like I’ve grown up so much and have become woke to my own damage, and the damage of living in an ableist society. I feel really lucky that I get to further the conversation that I just barely started in my book.”
The series’ place in the Emmys race arrives at a watershed moment for LGBTQ inclusion at the Emmys, from the period ballroom-culture drama “Pose” to sleeper comedy hit “Schitt’s Creek.”
These Emmy nominations for Netflix are just four of 118 total. Though topped by HBO in terms of nominations, the streaming giant has a competitive slate of contenders this year, including the universally adored “Russian Doll,” gritty drama “Ozark,” Beyoncé’s “Homecoming” concert film, “Queer Eye,” “GLOW,” and more.
Check out the video below. “Special” is currently streaming on Netflix.