Zach Anner

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Zach Anner TV Poster Image
Hilarious YouTuber explores the world from his wheelchair.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Importance of being proud of who you are, being genuine, being honest explicitly and implicitly underlined. Many issues specific to disability are addressed (including mechanics of how Zach navigates the world). Other videos exploring different religions promote respect, tolerance, understanding. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Simply put, Zach is a funny, cool, respectful, thoughtful young man who happens to have cerebral palsy, and he's not afraid to talk about it, or about anything. Some videos address his disability, but just as many do not. He's game, happy to meet new people, up for a good time, and hilarious -- as well as honest about limitations of his body and how that affects his life. 

Violence
Sex

Zach sometimes touches on matters of sex, dating, self-love. "School dances are terrible," he tells viewers in one video, before admitting that it's only by going that you'll find someone who likes you "enough to sit on your lap for a slow dance." He also frankly says that disabled people, like everyone, deserve privacy for activities like masturbation. In one segment, Zach goes to a strip club in Canada, and since he's not allowed to film the dancer there, winds up whipping off his shirt and dancing awkwardly onstage. 

Language

Zach occasionally uses off-color wording: "I hear this is a pot users' wet dream." Cursing is bleeped: "Dolphins are always down to f--k," he jokes. 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

At least one segment delves into legal drug use: Zach visits a medical marijuana facility, and we see jars and bags of marijuana as well as edibles. No one uses on camera and it's stated several times that Zach can't buy anything at the dispensary because he doesn't have a medical card to do so. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Zach Anner's YouTube channel follows the life of a young comedian with cerebral palsy. It's generally positive, inoffensive, and funny, but some videos tackle mature content that may be unsuitable for younger viewers, such as when Anner visits a medical marijuana clinic (no one smokes or imbibes) and a strip club (Anner's the only stripper we see, and he only takes his shirt off). Anner is also straightforward about sex and dating, sometimes in a perspective colored by his disability, like when he explains that people with a disability have a right to privacy when masturbating. Language is usually mild, but Anner occasionally utters an off-color phrase, such as calling something a "wet dream" or joking that dolphins are "down to f--k" (with "f--k" bleeped). Anner is a funny and respectful host who's honest about the limitations of his body, but always up to learn something or to have a good time. 

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What's the story?

YouTube star Zach Anner, a comic and author who has cerebral palsy, calls this channel his own and hosts several different playlists with different themes. In his Have a Little Faith series he visits with people of various religions to learn more about them; in his Top of the Monday videos he reports on (ridiculous) good news such as a tiger who's friends with a goat; in his travel series, Riding Shotgun, he visits with internet fans in various cities; Workout Wednesdays are satirical videos showing Zach getting exercise in various locales. Viewers will learn more about cerebral palsy too, with videos that dispel myths about disabilities or explain to parents how to thoughtfully raise a child with learning or physical differences. 

Is it any good?

A channel hosted by a man with cerebral palsy (CP) sounds like it could skew super preachy, but this loose, lovable, fun-seeking YouTuber is anything but. He's honest about the limitations of his body -- in one of his regular "Workout Wednesday" videos, he heads to the beach, where he informs viewers that the first workout step is to have "surfer Josh carry you out of your wheelchair and onto the rocks! Always show appreciation for your Josh!" he says, patting his aide's back happily. "Don't be like one Captain Ahab obsessed with one whale," he continues while perched on a surfboard, explaining that there are plenty of fish in the sea, as well as dolphins. 

Very Special Episodes these are not, even when Anner directly addresses his cerebral palsy and its effect on his life. "Just because I'm in a wheelchair does not mean you can pet me like a dog," he explains, and "Just because I have cerebral palsy doesn't mean I'm inherently inspiring. I'm inspiring because I'm an author, a YouTuber and have the biceps of a Greek god." But though his CP is always present, Anner takes on many other topics on his channel: religion, travel, education, current events. All of this could be very boring. But with the absurd, self-confident, very silly Anner at the helm, it's a total kick -- with tons of positive messages to boot. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Zach Anner first became famous after entering a video for an Oprah Winfrey competition. Can you imagine getting famous in the same way? Could anyone get famous this way? Why do you think Anner won?

  • Some of Anner's videos focus directly on cerebral palsy, but many do not. Do you still learn about cerebral palsy even in videos that aren't setting out to teach you something? How? 

  • One main difference between YouTube content and what you see on TV and at the movies is that YouTube stars are thought of as more genuine and real. How does Anner fit into this context? Do you think his videos are scripted? Does it matter? 

TV details

For kids who love comedy

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