Our Favourite Movies and TV Shows about Young Carers
We learn a lot about life through movies and TV shows. And, you may be surprised to learn that Young Carers feature frequently on screen. That’s why we’ve prepared a list of our top recommendations for movies and TV series with Young Carer and Special Sibling storylines:
Parenthood (TV series 2010-2015)
Parenthood is widely acclaimed for its narrative on Asperger’s Syndrome, depicting the ups and downs of the condition through the lens of the Braverman family, including sister, Haddie, parents, Adam and Kristina, and the extended family. The show’s heavy focus on life with a developmental disability and its familial impact is a major learning experience, touching also on subjects such as cancer, addiction and mental health.
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (Movie 1993)
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape tells the story of Johnny Depp as Gilbert, who cares for his brother, who has autism, and his obese mother, who struggles to leave the house. Gilbert lives in a small town and dreams of freedom, but the weight of being a caretaker and providing for his family holds him back. The film is an honest and moving depiction of the conflict between being a Carer and a young person.
I am Sam (Movie 2002)
A heart-warming and comical movie, I am Sam is about a father with an intellectual disability and his fight to retain custody of his seven-year-old daughter, Lucy (a Young Carer!). As Sam’s young daughter begins to surpass him intellectually, Sam must battle against a social worker with the help of his friends to keep her from foster care. Family, love and hope are the key themes throughout the movie.
Wonder (Movie 2017)
Wonder tells the story of Auggie Pullman, born with a genetic disorder called Treacher Collins syndrome. As Auggie begins fifth grade at a mainstream school for the first time, he and his family must deal with the difficulties and identity struggle the journey entails for all. Wonder depicts not only the isolation felt by Auggie, but also by his sister, who often feels forgotten and misunderstood as a Special Sibling.
Shameless US (TV series 2011-)
Whilst we don’t recommend Shameless for young viewers, this TV series tells the story of a family of Young Carers, as six young siblings navigate life with a father who has a severe addiction and an absent mother. The kids grow up faster than most their age, as they learn to save money for bills, work odd jobs and fend for themselves in an often comical way.
You’re Not You (Movie 2014)
Starring Hilary Swank and Emmy Rossum, You’re Not You is about a classical pianist at the height of her career who is suddenly diagnosed with motor neurone disease. With her husband struggling to juggle the caring responsibilities, Kate enlists the help of a college student to care for her. The two form a strong friendship and together, bring light to the otherwise challenging and isolating disease.
Speechless (TV series 2018-)
Speechless is a relatively new TV series, which focuses on the story of a family with a son who has cerebral palsy. Confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak, the son is fiercely protected by his family, leading to plenty of comical adventures and heartfelt family moments along the way.
Pay It Forward (Movie 2000)
Pay It Forward is about a young boy, Trevor, whose school assignment to ‘change the world for the better’ sets off a national kindness phenomenon of ‘paying it forward’. The Young Carer storyline in this movie is reflected as Trevor helps care for his struggling single mother, who also has an alcohol addiction. We recommend you bring the tissues for this one!
Atypical (TV series 2017-)
The comedy series Atypical begins when Sam, a teenager with autism, decides he’s ready to start dating. Viewers follow Sam and his family, who must navigate the changes of Sam’s behaviour as well as their own family dramas. The series has a strong voice on topics such as autism, diversity, family and what it means to be ‘normal’, using comedy as a means of communicating.
Rain Man (Movie 1998)
Rain Man tells the story of car dealer Charlie, who learns that his estranged father has died and left his entire fortune to his long-lost brother, who has autism. Motivated by his father’s money, Charlie makes contact with his brother and takes him on a life-changing road trip. The movie shines a light on autism in a humorous and emotional manner.
My Sister’s Keeper (Movie 2009)
Another emotional movie, My Sister’s Keeper is about a young girl, Anna. Anna was conceived to be a bone marrow donor for her sister, who was diagnosed with cancer at a young age. Throughout her life, she undergoes countless painful and intrusive medical procedures for her sister, prompting her to sue her parents for emancipation. The repercussions of this are seen to unfold throughout the movie, guaranteeing to bring tears!
The Fundamentals of Caring (Movie 2016)
Whilst not specifically tailored to Young Carers, The Fundamentals of Caring is about a retired and frustrated writer who takes on a caring role for a teenage boy who has a form of muscular dystrophy and is confined to a wheelchair. The two embark on an impromptu road trip, where themes such as friendship, hope and life come to the fore with the people they encounter.
Love Actually (Movie 2003)
We had to include a Christmas movie in our line up! Whilst caring is not the central theme of Love Actually, it has a subtle presence in the movie. Sarah, one of the film’s protagonists, supports her brother, who has a mental illness, on numerous occasions throughout the movie. She spends Christmas with her brother, abandoning her budding office romance to be a Carer for a family member in need.