Deaf U is a Docusoap series following the students of Gallaudet University, a private college for the deaf and hard of hearing. The series, according to the official press release, was made in large by the members of the deaf community – 30% crew, 30% edit team and 60% of the story department producers. It’s a unique show that gives an insight into the world of the people who are hard of hearing and provides a new perspective to things.
However, Deaf U doesn’t waste time behind making you understand deafness. The series is like a drama show, where you follow a select few students in the tight-knit deaf community of Gallaudet, who try to navigate through life. There’s a lot of scandalous gossips, relationship, past trauma, secrets and stories that sometimes feel so personal, you’d feel awkward watching them unfold. There’s also, obviously, parties and hooking up – normal college stuff.
There are two major cliques at Gallaudet and gossip travels fast. The “elites” seem to be really judgemental of the people who are, well, not a part of the clique and are looked down upon. That has a big impact on some people and we see how it eventually affects their decisions. We also see how the dating scene is, and how the deaf have to manoeuvre in the world of the hearing. Small scenes like moving the furniture around so that everyone can see everyone sign, writing their drink orders on the phone and trying to feel the beats of the music in the club give a great insight into their lives.
Additionally, the different people whom we follow, all have very vivid and (some) haunting backstories. It’s sad to see such things, especially when it comes to Alexa. Cheyenna’s struggle with fitting in is also another heartfelt part of the show. It’s also quite entertaining to watch these people trying to go through college and have fun. There’s also a lot of heartfelt conversations between people and it’s interesting to see their various sides.
However, you also somewhere are always aware that Deaf U is very much made-up. It’s Reality TV and you realise that while watching it. The amount of gossip is astounding, and, as I mentioned above, sometimes it feels like you’re listening to very awkward and private conversations. I think that’s the thing with Reality TV, right? The editing is so great that it’s always dramatic and there’s always something explosive going on. So, that makes me question the “docu” part of the docusoap, because it’s most definitely a soap.
The conversations have a lot of heartfelt and emotionally heavy topics, but the people don’t seem to be too into it. Because there’s a certain amount of genuinely that you just feel when someone talks about something that is close to them, or maybe even when two people go out on a date. The instances here don’t feel as genuine. It’s great entertainment, no doubt, but apart from that, it lacks the “original” feel that documentaries usually present.
The production value of Deaf U is great and that comes out in every scene. If they said that this was a teen series, I would’ve totally accepted it. But it feels more like Reality TV than anything else. Do I mind? No, I don’t. It’s still extremely scandalous and entertaining and weaves deaf culture and problems into the narrative well. Also, since there aren’t dialogues per se, and you have to read subtitles, they do a good job of filling the silence with good background scores.
Summing up: Deaf U
Deaf U is a docusoap about the lives of a group of deaf college students of Gallaudet University. The stories are wild and the show is entertaining. However, fair warning: this isn’t a documentary. It’s a Reality show and a very entertaining one at that. Although, well, it has its fair share of terrible characters. I’d leave it to you to find out who.
Deaf U is streaming on Netflix.
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