Netflix recently announced a reality series, “Deaf U,” which follows the lives of students at Gallaudet University
Netflix has been the gift that keeps on giving during the pandemic when it comes to reality shows, docuseries, and documentary programming. Early on in the year, the streaming service gifted us with the amazingness that is Tiger King, which dropped our jaws and kept us entertained. Then, we were inspired by Michelle Obama’s documentary, Becoming. And in October, they hope to enlighten us with a boundary-breaking reality series about students at a college that caters to the deaf and hard of hearing, dubbed Deaf U.
Produced by deaf advocate and actor Nyle DiMarco, Deaf U’s cast includes students at Gallaudet University, a private college in Washington D.C. that caters to the deaf and hard of hearing.
DiMarco, who is fourth generation deaf, explained to IndieWire that the intention of the show is to depict the students at Gallaudet as human beings and to show how each individual is unique in their own way. “There truly is no right way to being deaf,” DiMarco explained to them. Deaf U is one of seven new series coming to the streaming giant as part of their tribute to the 30th anniversary of the ADA.
DiMarco himself attended the university, and ever since has been devoted to educating people about the diversity of its community, which has a population that is half BIPOC.
“I wanted to take this opportunity to show what I can offer to the world,” said Renate Rose, one graduate featured on the show explains. Cheyenna Clearbrook, another star of the series, says she was drawn to participate in it due to the fact that there is nothing like it that exists. “If I go on the show I could break boundaries for everyone,” but especially towards showing deaf culture, she explained.
According to the show’s participants, production worked closely with the university and was allowed to film during classes and then also in the student’s fee time.
“We were working on it about a year, from beginning to end,” said student Daequan Taylor, who lost hearing in childhood but is not fully deaf. “I was born hearing, but at the age of six I got really sick,” he continued. After breaking a bone in his left ear as a result of a seizure, his deafness occurred when the bone grew back over the eardrum. When he first arrived at the university, he didn’t even know ASL, as his whole life he “grew up speaking with everyone. I never signed.”
He’s proud of the show because, he explains, “I get to bring in a new deaf culture. I’m sticking up for a new generation and a different history, culture, ethnic group.”
“One thing I think people will learn is that deaf people can do what you all do. The only thing we can’t do is hear, and that’s all. We do have our own college; we do have our own culture… the culture is so rich,” added student Rodney Burford.
Deaf U will be available to stream on Netflix in October.