Special (TV series)

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GenreComedy, LGBTQ
Created byRyan O'Connell
Based onI'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves
by Ryan O'Connell
ComposerJoshua Moshier
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes16
Executive producers
  • Anna Dokoza
  • Eric Norsoph
  • Ryan O'Connell
  • Todd Spiewak
  • Jim Parsons
  • Philip Roy
  • Nate Miller
  • Jeremy Mackie
  • Thomas Calderón
  • Luis Colina
  • Taichi Erskine
  • John Daigle
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time12–34 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12) –
May 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)

Special is an American comedy-drama television series created by Ryan O'Connell for Netflix.[1] Starring Ryan O'Connell, the series is a semi-autobiographical account of his life as a gay man in Los Angeles with cerebral palsy pursuing new friendships, relationships, and self-sufficiency.

It is based on O'Connell's memoir I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.[2]

The series premiered on April 12, 2019, and concluded on May 20, 2021, after two seasons.[3][4][5] It received positive reviews and earned four nominations at the 71st Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series and three for the performances of Ryan, Jessica Hecht, and Punam Patel.


Special is "a distinctive and uplifting new lgbtq series about a gay man, Ryan, with mild cerebral palsy who decides to rewrite his identity and finally go after the life he wants to live."[6][7][8]

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Ryan O'Connell as Ryan Hayes,[9] an unpaid intern at Eggwoke
  • Jessica Hecht as Karen Hayes, Ryan's mother[10]
  • Punam Patel as Kim Laghari, Ryan's friend and co-worker at Eggwoke
  • Marla Mindelle as Olivia, Ryan and Kim's boss
  • Augustus Prew as Carey, one of Kim's best friends.
  • Patrick Fabian as Phil, Karen's new neighbor and love interest
  • Max Jenkins as Tanner (season 2),[11] Ryan's love interest who is in an open relationship with a man named Richard


  • Gina Marie Hughes as Samantha,[12] Ryan and Kim's co-worker at Eggwoke
  • Buck Andrews as Henry (season 2),[13] a neurodivergent love interest of Ryan

Guest stars[edit]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
18April 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
28May 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)

Season 1 (2019)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"Chapter One: Cerebral LOLzy"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Ryan, a gay man with mild cerebral palsy, begins his internship at Eggwoke, an online content creation company. He becomes friends with his coworker Kim. Everyone at his workplace assumes his symptoms of his cerebral palsy is due to a car accident, which he decides to play along with.
22"Chapter Two: The Deep End"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Ryan and Kim go to their boss’s poolside birthday party. Ryan recognizes one of the guests from Grindr and they leave to have sex, but Ryan’s inexperience ends the encounter early. Meanwhile, some of the guests make passive-aggressive comments about Kim’s body to Kim. Returning home, Ryan tells his overprotective mother, Karen, that he’s moving out.
33"Chapter Three: Free Scones"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Kim encourages Ryan to meet a sex worker, Shay, to lose his virginity. Though it is initially awkward, Ryan relaxes and has an enjoyable time with Shay. Karen agrees to help Ryan find an apartment. Phil, the new neighbor, catches Karen staring at him and invites her to a date.
44"Chapter Four: Housechilling Party"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Ryan invites his old college friends to a housewarming party to celebrate his new apartment. They all bail on him, so he invites Kim over and lies that the party was meant for her. She calls him out on the lie, and they promise not to lie to each other in their friendship. Kim invites her friends over and they all dance happily. Karen and Phil meet and have sex.
55"Chapter Five: Vagina Momologues"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Karen struggles to maintain relationships with her mother and Ryan. She buys a new dress to impress Phil.
66"Chapter Six: Straight Potential"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Ryan meets Kim's friend Carey and realizes he is in love with him. Carey invites him to a poker game and discreetly helps Ryan shuffle his cards, which Ryan is thankful for. Unfortunately, Ryan learns that Carey already has a boyfriend. At Phil's encouragement, Karen takes pot and admits to him how grateful she feels to love someone who cares for her.
77"Chapter Seven: Blind Deaf Date"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
Ryan's boss sets Ryan on a date with her deaf cousin, which doesn't work out. Ryan is shocked to discover that Karen and Phil are dating. Phil breaks up with Karen due to her strong attachment to Ryan. Karen tells Ryan that she broke up with Phil, and is surprised to hear that he accepted their relationship and just needed time to process. Ryan and Karen reconcile.
88"Chapter Eight: Gay Gardens"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellApril 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)
It is Karen's 50th birthday and she asks Ryan to pick up a cake for her. Karen attempts to get back with Phil by telling him that Ryan approves of their relationship, but Phil declines, saying he doesn't want to need his approval to date her. At work, Ryan comes clean and admits that his limp is due to his cerebral palsy, not the car accident as everyone assumed. No one cares except for Kim, who Ryan apologizes to for lying again. Ryan gets distracted hanging out with his friends and comes late to Karen and brings the wrong cake. This sets off an argument between them: Karen tells Ryan that she ended her relationship with Phil because of him, but he says he never wanted that; Ryan says that Karen is too dependent on him, but Karen says that he can't survive in the real world without her. Karen tries to apologize for what she said, but Ryan leaves.

Season 2 (2021)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
91"One Day Stand"Anna DokozaRyan O'ConnellMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
102"I Don't Like it Like This"Anna DokozaMason FlinkMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
113"That's The Way The Boys Are"Anna DokozaLiz ElverenliMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
124"Death By a Thousand Cold Cuts"Anna DokozaLeila CohanMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
135"Ryan Joins the Crips"Craig JohnsonKeshni KashyapMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
146"Prom Queens"Craig JohnsonLeila CohanMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
157"Why Is No One Ready?"Craig JohnsonRyan O'ConnellMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)
168"Here's Where the Story Ends"Craig JohnsonRyan O'ConnellMay 20, 2021 (2021-05-20)



On February 5, 2019, Netflix announced that it had given the production a series order for an eight-episode first season.[14] The series is created by Ryan O'Connell, who is credited as an executive producer, alongside Jim Parsons, Anna Dokoza, Eric Norsoph and Todd Spiewak.[14] Production companies involved with the series were slated to consist of That's Wonderful Productions and Stage 13.[14] On December 16, 2019, the series was renewed for a second and final season by Netflix.[4][5]


Alongside the series order announcement, it was confirmed that Ryan O'Connell, Jessica Hecht, Punam Patel, Marla Mindelle, Augustus Prew, and Patrick Fabian would star in the series.[14] In February 2020, Max Jenkins was cast in the recurring role for the second season.[11] In March 2021, Charlie Barnett, Ana Ortiz, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lauren Weedman, Buck Andrews, Anjali Bhimani, Ajay Mehta, and Karan Soni joined the cast in recurring roles while Leslie Jordan was cast to guest star.[13]


On March 25, 2019, Netflix released the first official trailer for the series.[15][10] The first season, consisting of 8 episodes, was released on Netflix on April 12, 2019.[3] The second season was released on May 20, 2021.[5]


Critical response[edit]

The first season received positive reviews upon its release. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 96% with an average rating of 7.30/10 based on 25 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Honest and genuinely affecting, Special lives up to its name with a funny—if a bit too concise—first season brightened by Ryan O'Connell's infectious charms.[16] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[17] Variety gave the show a positive review calling the main character "quick and snarky, deeply insecure and sometimes more selfish than he's willing to admit. He makes mistakes and pays for them, undergoing a hell of a lot of change in the short time Special gets to show it."[18] TV Guide gave the show a mixed review saying that, "Hopefully Special gets a second season with a bigger budget, a writing staff, and more time to plan. The way Season 1 improves as it goes along shows Special still has a lot of potential."[19]


Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Jim Parsons, Todd Spiewak, Eric Norsoph, Ryan O'Connell and Anna Dokoza Nominated [20]
Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Ryan O'Connell Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Jessica Hecht Nominated
Punam Patel Nominated
2020 Writers Guild of America Awards Short Form New Media – Original Ryan O'Connell Won [21]
2022 GLAAD Media Awards Outstanding Comedy Series Special Nominated [22]


  1. ^ Petski, Denise (February 5, 2019). "Netflix Orders Ryan O'Connell Comedy Series 'Special' Produced By Jim Parsons". Deadline. Archived from the original on February 7, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  2. ^ "I'm Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves to Get Through Our Twenties". www.publishersweekly.com. Archived from the original on May 5, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Pedersen, Erik (December 26, 2018). "Midseason Premiere Dates For New & Returning Series: 2019 Edition". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on November 20, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b Petski, Denise (December 16, 2019). "'Special' Renewed For Season 2 By Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 24, 2019. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c Goldberg, Lesley (March 10, 2021). "'Special' to End With Expanded Second Season at Netflix (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on March 10, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  6. ^ "Netflix's upcoming series, 'Special' explores the life of a disabled gay man". The Rustin Times. April 9, 2019. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  7. ^ Nakamura, Reid (February 5, 2019). "Netflix Orders Cerebral Palsy Comedy Series 'Special' From Ryan O'Connell, Jim Parsons". The Wrap. Archived from the original on December 18, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  8. ^ Rodriguez, Matthew (February 6, 2019). "A Comedy About a Gay Man with Cerebral Palsy Is Coming to Netflix". www.out.com. Archived from the original on May 24, 2019. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  9. ^ Porter, Rick (February 5, 2019). "Netflix Orders Jim Parsons-Produced Comedy Series". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 19, 2019. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  10. ^ a b Nordine, Michael (March 25, 2019). "'Special' Trailer: Netflix Series Shows the Highs and Lows of Being Gay and Disabled". IndieWire. Archived from the original on March 29, 2019. Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  11. ^ a b Ramos, Dino-Ray (February 27, 2020). "'Buffy' Alum Juliet Landau To Recur On 'Claws'; 'Dead To Me's Max Jenkins Joins Season 2 Of 'Special'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 11, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2021.
  12. ^ Baroi, Tuhin (2023-05-05). "Gina Marie Hughes as Samantha in Special Netflix series -". Bivuk. Archived from the original on 2023-05-05. Retrieved 2023-05-05.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Petski, Denise (March 29, 2021). "'Special': Charlie Barnett, Max Jenkins, Ana Ortiz Among Nine Set To Recur In Season 2 Of Netflix Series". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 29, 2021. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d "Ryan O'Connell and Jim Parsons' Special is Coming to Netflix". Netflix Media Center. February 5, 2019. Archived from the original on April 22, 2020. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  15. ^ Shepherd, Jack (March 26, 2019). "Special trailer: New Netflix series' lead character is gay and has cerebral palsy". Independent. Archived from the original on April 11, 2019. Retrieved April 11, 2019.
  16. ^ "Special: Season 1 (2019)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  17. ^ "Special: Season 1". Metacritic. CBS. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  18. ^ "TV Review: 'Special' on Netflix". Variety. 8 April 2019. Archived from the original on September 30, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  19. ^ "Special Review: Netflix Let This Promising Comedy Down". TV Guide. Archived from the original on August 12, 2019. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  20. ^ "71st Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners". emmys.com. Archived from the original on January 28, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2019.
  21. ^ Evans, Greg (December 5, 2019). "WGA TV Nominations: 'The Crown', 'Mindhunter', 'Watchmen' Among Contenders – Complete List". Deadline Hollywood. Adelaide. Archived from the original on December 5, 2019. Retrieved December 5, 2019.
  22. ^ "The Nominees for the 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards". GLAAD. 2022-01-21. Retrieved 2022-01-22.

External links[edit]