The Other Sister (English) and Special Needs


TheOther Sister (English) and Special Needs


of the Movie

TheOther Sister movie was released in 1999. It is directed by GarryMarshall. Its original language is English. The main charactersinclude Carla Tate, Elizabeth Tate, Dr. Radley Tate, Daniel McMann“Danny”, Caroline Tate, Heather Tate, Drew Evanson, Jeff Reed,Winnie, Mitchell and Ernie.Carla Tate had a mild mentaldisability, but she schooled in a boarding school, where sheeventually receives a certificate. She is ambitious about gettingsome independence from the family, but her mother, Elizabeth, isuneasy and embarrassed by Carla’s disability. Her father Dr. Radleyis struggling to recover from alcoholism. Carla met Danny, who alsohad a mental disability, in school. The two became friends andeventually fell in love. Danny enjoys independence from the familythat Carla admires and succeeds to convince her family to allow herto live in her own apartment. Carla and Danny finally developed asexual relationship.

Danny’sfather is wealthy, but he decides to interrupt Danny’s freedom byabruptly stopping sending money to him. Danny gets frustrated andstarts drinking. He then seeks insight and solace from Ernie and thelandlord. At a Christmas party, Danny drinks too much so as to gaincourage to declare his love to Carla. Danny tells everyone abouttheir first experience in making love. Carla feels embarrassed andbreaks in tears and starts yelling at everyone laughing at them. Sherefuses to talk to Danny, but later she realizes that she still loveshim. At Caroline’s wedding, Danny appears in church and proposes toCarla. Whereas everyone in the family supports their wishes formarriage, Elizabeth is unhappy with the decision with the reason thatDanny cannot even take care of himself. Carla confronts her motherand accuses her of over dominating her.

Impactof the Disability

BothCarla and Danny had mental disabilities. The disability had severalimplications for them. Socially, they seem to be isolated from therest of the people. There push for independence from their familieswas as a result of self-stigma. When people with a mental challengelive in a society that does not fully embrace them, they feel thatthey are less valued. As a result, low self-esteem and this reducestheir confidence and heightens anger (Dukmak, 2009). Because of theprejudice they experience, different people have varied ways ofdealing with stigma. Some opt to separate themselves. Corrigan &ampWatson (2002) suggest that participation in education programschanges the attitudes of people with mental disabilities, and arelikely to react better to problems they face. Carla and Danny seem torespond positively as a result of their education. They believe theycan make and demand to live independently. Their love relationshipand marriage are indicators that education has changed them and aredetermined to live like other people.

Carla’sdisability has affected her family life negatively. Her motherappears to very protective and does not want her to liveindependently. She does not believe that Carla can make wisedecisions by herself. This close monitoring leaves her unhappy andfinally disagrees with the mother. Elizabeth also views that Dannycannot take care of Carla because of her condition. Danny’s fatherwithdraws his support for him. This way, he expected that Dannyshould take care of himself. Both Carla and Danny have receivededucation and are ambitious that they will work just like normalpeople and themselves.

Traditionally,disabled people were poorly treated in the society. They were exposedto discrimination, stereotyping and labeling. They were excluded fromthe profitable activities of the society and were deprived offundamental rights such as education, job and family life (Guvercin,2008). People with disabilities could not offer a positivecontribution to the society because they were not given requisiteeducation. However, much has changed in UAE. The Islamic society hasstarted to recognize the people with disabilities and new inclusionprograms have been introduced to enable them participate in educationand general activities of the society. This change has been steeredby the Islamic teachings of inclusion. Islamic religion teaches thatevery member of the society should be accorded human dignity and allpeople are supposed to be treated equally (Guvercin, 2008).

Thismovie reflects the situation in the UAE. From the movie, Carla andDanny have gained access to education and are trying to make apositive contribution to the society. They want to be independent andenjoy life just like other people. However, the mother has thetraditional view that mentally challenged people cannot make sounddecisions. Elizabeth represents the old community philosophy oftreating people with disability. On the other hand, Danny’s familyand some members of Carla’s family are a representation of themodern views because they have allowed them independence and theyhave respect for their schooling, marriage and work decisions. Thejourney for inclusion has been a battle in UAE against the ancientviews and their proponents, just like Carla had to confront hermother before she finally accepted the change. The outcomes in thismovie are motivating to the young people of Abu Dhabi and may createa positive change in mindset towards disability.


Inthis movie, disability is portrayed in a positive way. Carla’sfinally wins the battle against sympathy that the mother has towardsher. She succeeds in getting the independence that she demanded andshe is allowed to marry Danny as she wished. This implies that peoplewith mental disability can make right decisions and be self dependentwhen given an opportunity. Also, Danny never gave in to the mockeryhe faced from the friends and family. When he disclosed his love forCarla, many laughed at them and whereas Carla fell away in tears,Danny overcomes the scare and seeks attention from Carla. Carla’spush for freedom and the subsequent success together with Danny’sdetermination to have Carla, even after the father withdraws hissupport, makes the movie enjoyable.


Thereare several cases of mental disability throughout the UAE. Theperceptions and reactions of the society towards the people withdisability will determine the kind of life they will live. Islamicteachings emphasize on taking care for everyone, a teaching that hasbrought several changes from the traditional views that disabledpeople could not make a positive contribution to the society.Inclusion education programs are opening up to allow people withdisabilities participate in school programs. This movie is anindication that people with disabilities can make their owneducational, career and marriage decisions.


Corrigan,W. P. Watson, C. A. (2002). Understanding the Impact of Stigma onPeople with Mental Illness. WorldPsychiatry,1,1, 16-20.

Dukmak,S. (December 01, 2009). Parent Adaptation to and ParentingSatisfaction with Children with Intellectual Disability in theUnited Arab Emirates.&nbspJournalof Intellectual &amp Developmental Disability,&nbsp34,&nbsp4,324-328.

Guvercin,H. (2008). CultureandSociety: People with Disabilities from an Islamic Perspective.The Fountain. Retrieved From,&lt 24, 2014