There was a moment during this year’s Oscar ceremony that made me cry.
It was at the very end when Liza Minelli came onto the stage using a wheelchair, with Lady Gaga beside her, to present the award for Best Picture. More specifically, when Liza stumbled on her line and Gaga said, “I got you.”
In this moment, I saw two groundbreaking, larger-than-life stars rendered undeniably human by a simple act of care. I also saw how powerful it is when caregiving is made visible. How affirming.
Millions of Americans are currently taking care of loved ones who are disabled, ill or aging. Millions more are caring for children. Many of us have felt the extra squeeze placed on these responsibilities by the Covid-19 pandemic. Maybe that’s why, finally, these experiences are starting to show up more frequently in our entertainment culture, both on screen and off.
Care Across Hollywood
NBC’s This Is Us has put the experience of family caregiving and care planning at the heart of its final season, while Netflix’s Human Resources has touchingly explored the layers of emotion around caring for someone at the end of life. ABC’s Abbott Elementary recently revealed that a main character is a caregiver to her aging mother, while the last season of HBO’s Insecure saw one of the leads navigating care needs for her mother following a stroke. The Bachelor cast a family caregiver as a contestant while a care worker competed on the latest Survivor.
Offscreen, Queen Latifah recently opened up about the experience of caring for her mother, while Brandee Evans and Yvette Nicole Brown have continued to proudly advocate for caregivers. Celebrities are giving more visibility to care workers, such as Olivia Rodrigo, who brought ASL interpreters to the red carpet at the Grammys, and Melanie Lynskey who made a point to thank her nanny at the Critics’ Choice Awards.
At the Oscars, it seemed fitting to me that Liza and Lady Gaga were onstage to present the award for Best Picture to CODA, which features a unique story of intergenerational care: the teenaged daughter who interprets for her family but still relies on care from her parents, too.
Cultural Tipping Point
Care is everywhere and always has been. But it hasn’t always been visible in our culture. This feels like an inflection point in terms of film and TV representation, with caregiving showing up in a variety of ways on a variety of platforms. In my opinion, household names demonstrating care on “Hollywood’s biggest stage” is a significant sign of progress.
Each time care shows up in popular entertainment is another chance for the millions of Americans who are caring for someone to feel seen and to feel connected. It’s exciting to see this shift happening, and I’m thrilled to be here to make sure a spotlight stays on care.
Lydia Storie is our Senior Culture Change Manager, leading our culture change strategy around care in Hollywood. You can get to know her in her Q+A blog.