A&E Network has set a holiday finale special for “Born This Way,” the Emmy-winning reality series that chronicles the transition to adulthood for eight young men and women with Down syndrome.
A&E plans to air the hourlong finale in December for the docu-reality series that ran four seasons, starting in 2015.
Before the special debuts, the cabler’s digital platform will feature a six-part short-form digital series that will examine how the stars have grown and changed during the run of the show: Elena, John, Megan, Rachel, Sean, Steven, Cristina and Angel. “Born This Way” also incorporates the perspective of parents into the show.
The series has been been hailed for helping to change the way viewers see the disabled community by depicting the lives of special-needs young adults as they seek independence from their parents, embark on careers and begin romantic relationships. The series from Bunim-Murray Productions won the Emmy for unstructured reality program in 2016. The show has been nommed in that category for each of its four seasons. It also won a Critics Choice Award for reality program and was recognized with a Television Academy Honors laurel.
“Being a part of the amazing and inspiring journey of our cast over the past four seasons has been an honor for myself and everyone at A&E,” said Elaine Frontain Bryant, exec VP and head of programming for A&E Network. “We have all learned so much from their openness, resilience and spirit, and we will be forever grateful to them for welcoming us and viewers into their lives.”
The series has been a passion project for executive producer Jonathan Murray, an elder statesman of the unscripted production arena. From the start with MTV’s “The Real World” — the pioneering series spearheaded by Murray and his late production partner Mary-Ellis Bunim — unscripted TV has made an impact by shining a light on misunderstood and marginalized communities.
“It’s not often that you get to make television like ‘Born This Way’ which has had such a positive impact on the world. The show unquestionably changed how society views people with Down syndrome and how people with Down syndrome see themselves,” said Murray. “It has shown that no one should have to live with artificial limits placed upon them and all of us, no matter what challenges we face, want the same things – independence, a chance for meaningful employment and a chance to contribute to our families and communities.”