Turner Syndrome In Pop Culture The Condition: A Novel: Jennifer Haigh: Books

Jennifer Haigh || Author of Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs Kimble

Books of The Times – In ‘The Condition,’ Jennifer Haigh Explores a Fractured Family – Review –

Jennifer Haigh – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Believe it or not, there are a couple of instances in the past few years in which Turner Syndrome was portrayed, fairly correctly, in pop culture.  Personally I am glad to see it.  Let’s start with the book.

The protagonist of Jennifer Haigh’s 2008 novel The Condition, Gwen, has Turner Syndrome.  While the “condition” of the novel supposedly refers to Turners, it really, at the end of the novel, represents the human condition.  I won’t go into detail about Gwen’s family, all of whom are much more screwed up than she is, other than to say the entire novel is about family dysfunction and the million little ways in which we hurt each other.

For a time, I felt conflicted about the book.  For every woman with Turners who felt the book accurate, there were just as many who saw it as inaccurate.  From my perspective, it is fairly accurate; it just uses the physical and social characteristics associated with Turners to full effect.  After reading the book a second time, I still find it hard to fairly review the book.  I suppose in some ways it describes various aspects of Turners a little too well.

There are a few scenes in the book that I could directly relate to as a woman with Turners.  The scene in which Gwen is compared to a female cousin approximately the same age breaks my heart, as did the scene in which Gwen begs her Mother for a new bathing suit.  I could relate.  I have a slightly older female cousin who happened to wear women’s sizes long before I could.  I distinctly remember feeling left out, never able to catch up, and plain envious.  Jennifer Haigh captured the situation well, but I wish she would’ve included more from Gwen’s perspective, even if she was a child at the time.

One of the most perplexing and complicated relationships in the novel happens to be between Gwen and her Mother.  Again, I found I could relate to their relationship, unfortunately.  Gwen seemed to have the need to become her own woman, in spite of what her Mother thought best.  While I have a better relationship with my Mom than Gwen had with hers, I do feel she doesn’t even begin to understand where I am coming from at times.  While that may be true for many mothers and daughters, I do think a diagnosis of Turner Syndrome strains that particular relationship.  How can mothers help their daughters deal with almost certain infertility, especially at a young age?  I was diagnosed at age three and knew about infertility by age ten.  I don’t think there is an answer and I don’t think most moms know how to even begin to address it.

Most of the action in the novel pertaining to Gwen revolves around her finally finding love and happiness.  The details pertaining to the reactions of her family members, some of which are just plain awful, seem a bit far-fetched.  Then again, many people just do not know what to make of women with Turner Syndrome at times, especially when it comes to romantic relationships and sex.  While the book ended on very positive notes, the ending seemed forced.  I must say that I highly approve of the life Gwen created for herself in the end.  What more can anyone ask for?

Below is a video of Jennifer Haigh discussing The Condition.  I suppose I’m left wondering if she understands the role hormone replacement therapy plays in helping women with Turners Syndrome develop secondary sex characteristics, but I digress.

IMDb – “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” Clock (TV episode 2006)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Clock – Season 8, Episode 2 –

Clock – Law and Order

It is now time to move on to TV.  Several years ago I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of my favorite TV shows, Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit, dealt with Turner Syndrome.  In the episode Clock, teenager Janey Speer, who has Turners, disappears with a classmate while on a field trip.  While Benson and Stabler first believe Janey to be the victim in the case, it isn’t so clear cut in the end.

I won’t give away the plot – and Turners is central to the plot in this case – but there are a couple of things I found quite amusing about this episode.  First and foremost, this episode portrays Turners girls and women as extremely stubborn.  I certainly fit that stereotype, as does most of my family.  The amusing part is that most Turners girls and women I’ve met over the years also fit the stereotype.  We are a feisty bunch.  My theory is that we had to be stubborn even to survive in the womb.  As 98 to 99% of fetuses with Turner Syndrome are miscarried, we can truly say we are the 1%.

The episode focuses on just how young Janey looks at 17.  In many ways I take exception to the portrayal of Turners girls and woman as always looking much younger than their true age.  That certainly isn’t always the case, although it would come in handy say at age 40.  What got me is the reaction from the cops to Janey’s relationship with her boyfriend.  He really did get treated shabbily.  One detective even tried to get him as pedophile.  While it would be easy to find that offensive, there was enough humor and humanity in the characters throughout the episode to put things in perspective.  Maybe I’m just partial to Turners girls and women being portrayed as stubborn.  Of course we are!

Cover of "The Condition: A Novel"

Cover of The Condition: A Novel

The Simpsons (1989-Present): Happy 500th Episode!

Clockwise from top left: Marge, Homer, Bart, S...

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Last Exit To Springfield :: Home Of The Simpsons

The Simpsons –

The No Homers Club | The World’s Source For Simpsons Discussion

The Simpsons (TV Series 1989– ) – IMDb

THE SIMPSONS – The Museum of Broadcast Communications

The Simpsons – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Simpsons Wiki

The Simpsons Hit A Milestone — Homer, Bart And Family Celebrate Their 500th Episode | Fox News

I couldn’t resist. I personally have to write something on the occasion of the 500th episode of The Simpsons.  As you can easily see, there is no want of discussion and/or information on the topic.  Why?  As a woman who grew up during the time period in which The Simpsons debuted, I can safely say that there were very few children unaware of Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Homer, and Marge in 1989, even if they weren’t allowed to watch the TV show.

Unfortunately, I grew up in that category.  I knew all about The Simpsons, but was not allowed to watch it as a child.  My Mom taught 6th grade at the time, and looking at things objectively as an adult, I really can’t argue against her point.  I also think that is part of the reason why I love them so much today.  I’m one of those rare people in my generation who first discovered The Simpsons as an adult.

Today there are very few episodes I have not watched.  For me, there is no mystery as to why the show has endured while others haven’t.  There are so many great cultural references, universal childhood and familial truths, and societal critiques packed into every episode that they will never get old.  My favorite feature of the show, aside for the family dynamics between Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, is the rich town of Springfield itself.  I can’t think of another TV show taking such pains to fully develop literally a town full of unique, interesting characters.  Personally I can think of half a dozen characters from the town of Springfield, unrelated to the Simpsons, who could easily be developed into spin-off series.  Before I get any comments, I would like to add that I fully realize that there is an episode of The Simpsons that spoofs the possibilities.  If you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s great.

I hope I’m not around when The Simpsons are not at least in syndication.  Recently I heard the rumor of a 24/7 cable network dedicated solely to The Simpsons.  I can’t imagine it is true, but I’d be one happy girl if it is!  There are so many people who say The Simpsons is not what it once was.  I don’t understand what they are talking about.  I hope it doesn’t end soon.

Bart Simpson's Guide to Life

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M*A*S*H (1972-1983)

M*A*S*H – The Museum of Broadcast Communications

M*A*S*H (TV Series 1972–1983) – IMDb

M*A*S*H Links

Ah, M*A*S*H.  For most of my childhood I had a love/hate relationship with the show.  I grew up watching M*A*S*H by default.  After school, it came on our local NBC affiliate after one of my favorite childhood TV shows, Little House on the Prairie.  The TV just stayed on the same channel as my Mom made dinner.  Incidentally, my Mom loved M*A*S*H, so the channel stayed put.

As time went on, I grew to love the antics of Hawkeye, Trapper, and later B.J. Hunnicut.  My favorite character will always be Colonel Sherman T. Potter.  There are some fans that love the early seasons while disregarding the last few seasons of the show.  Others take precisely the opposite point of view.  I don’t subscribe to either point of view.  I think both eras of the shows have their merits.

The zany antics of the early shows are great.  I especially love the dynamic between Frank, Margret, and those trying to get between them, Hawkeye and Trapper.  When you add in Frank and Margret trying everything in their power to take down Henry, you have some memorable shows.  Unfortunately, slapstick will get you only so far for so long.

With the arrival of B.J. Hunnicut, Charles Winchester III, and Colonel Sherman T. Potter, not to mention the departures of Trapper, Frank Burns, and the untimely death of Henry Blake, the focus of the show changed.  Topics became more serious and the dramatic intermingled more readily with the comedy.  As a result, M*A*S*H created the dramedy.

Some argue the show became too preachy during those last few seasons.  Personally, I don’t think it did.  I think it became more realistic.  The character and comedy genius of Colonel Potter made sure of that.  His no nonsense style put Hawkeye and B.J. in their place when needed.  He truly glued the show together in the last seasons.  I think it was smart on part of the producers and creators of the show to not replace characters with similar new characters.  Instead the series stayed fresh and relevant to the end.

English: Publicity photo of some M*A*S*H cast ...

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The Cosby Show (1984-1992)

The Cosby Show (TV Series 1984–1992) – IMDb
List of The Cosby Show characters – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Cosby Show –
THE COSBY SHOW – The Museum of Broadcast Communications

The Cosby Show (1984-1992) is the first sitcom I truly loved as a child.  My parents, my sister, and I actually used to watch it, along with most of the Thursday night NBC lineup, as a family.  The show itself left a huge impression on my childhood.  As with much of the US at the time, I looked forward to each Thursday night.

I wouldn’t say that I had a favorite Cosby kid growing up, but I could certainly identify with Rudy.  In the show she was approximately my age, and many episodes focused on her experiences with the trials and tribulations of childhood.  Personally, I always thought she was lucky.

Rudy had an abundance of something I wanted desperately as a child:  Older siblings.  Rudy didn’t have to be the first of anything.  She knew what to expect in school, socially and academically, thanks to all of her older siblings going before her.  She also learned how to push her parents’ buttons thanks to the tutoring at the hands of Vanessa, possibly one of the most manipulative TV children ever.

About Vanessa.  I always had conflicting views of her character.  On one hand, I would have loved to have had an older sister like her, or Denise, when it came to topics such fashion, boys, and school.  Then again, I would not want to be on the other end of her wrath.  To this day I think the episode in which Vanessa and Rudy are sentenced to live in the basement together due to literal destruction of their bedroom as a result of fighting is one of the most truthful depictions of sibling rivalry I’ve ever seen on TV.

Those universal truths about childhood are exactly what made The Cosby Show great, along with the fashion, the music, the art, and the guest stars.  In some ways it was the show about nothing long before Seinfeld came along.  When you think about it, nothing ever much actually happened on The Cosby Show.  Instead it largely focused on everyday family life and just how funny it can be.

The Night Of The Wretched – One Of My Favorite Episodes!

All Show Openings – Seasons 1-8

Bill Cosby

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Favorite TV Families

Our Five Favorite TV Families – News –

I have to agree with this list.  Several people commenting on the article suggested that the Connors from Roseanne should be included as well.  I won’t argue there.  It is funny to think that this could’ve been re-titled Our Favorite TV Families Of The 1980s.

Clockwise from top left: Marge, Homer, Bart, S...

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The Wonder Years

(L to R) Paul, Kevin and Winnie

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Where do I even start?  I don’t think another TV show ever meant as much to me as The Wonder Years.  As I grew up watching the show as a child, I wanted to be Winnie Cooper.  I loved her look.  I wanted to have the same long brown hair and dark brown eyes.  She even looked great when she pouted, which occurred just about any time she talked to Kevin.  Something intangible about the show, and Winnie Cooper, stuck with me through the years.

That isn’t even to mention the star of the show, Kevin Arnold.  How could any girl resist all of the attention and love he gave Winnie?  I don’t think any adolescent girl has ever been as greatly admired and loved as Winnie Cooper.  None of it seemed to matter to her.  Of course, that is exactly what frustrated me with the show; it is also what made the show great.  The audience never knew week to week whether or not Kevin and Winnie would be together.   In the end, it wasn’t to be.  Winnie went off to study art history in Paris and Kevin went on to start a family of his own, without her.  Here is a link to a  wonderful Top 10 of Winnie and Kevin together.

If You Seek Inspiration, Look Around You

The Silent Dialogue | The Collaborative Writer

Read to Write | FicFaq

I’ve long tried to pin down the exact reasons why reading is so vitally important to writers.  There is so much more to the relationship than simply trying to imitate favorite writers.  The blog posts above do a good job of describing the process of thoroughly analyzing and responding to reading.  For me, it is a never-ending process, especially while blogging.  I’ll come across a wonderful blog post, discover other great blog posts as a result, and then proceed to write about them both.  Then it starts all over again.

Why, then, can’t I seem to do this outside of blogging?  I have plenty of inspiration.  Despite appearances, I am pretty picky about what I read.  I know what inspires me; I know what I want out of a book.  As a result, just about everything I read has at least some value as future writing material.  Why don’t I translate this into longer pieces that are truly in-depth?  At the moment, I’m not sure.  I think I need to reassess exactly what I want to do and where I want to go with my writing.

Below is one of my favorite writing quotes.  It is from the old Roseanne sitcom, believe it or not.  The words appear in the very last scene of the series.  I can’t think of anything more inspiring.

“Those who dream by night,

in the dusty recesses of their minds

wake in the day to find that all was vanity;

But the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,

for they may act their dream with open eyes,

and make it possible.”

T.E. Lawarence

(Lawrence of Arabia)