‘Deafness isn’t a monolith’: Deaf communities praise, criticize new Apple TV+ movie ‘CODA’

Children defy their parents. Parents embarrass their children. They hug it out.

Audiences may roll their eyes at these coming-of-age movie cliches. But when a movie like “CODA” – now in theaters and on Apple TV+ – comes along, smiles easily spread across faces as deaf actors and characters finally get their chance in the spotlight.

“CODA” – which stands for child of deaf adults – is the story of 17-year-old Ruby (Emilia Jones), the hearing child of deaf parents (Oscar-winner Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur), who’s caught between helping her family’s fledgling fish business in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and pursuing her singing aspirations in college.

“CODA” marks a moment of unbridled joy for deaf communities – finally, yes, significant representation since 1986’s “Children of a Lesser God” – though doesn’t come without its critics who advocate for stronger authenticity in media representations of deaf and CODA culture. As with any marginalized group, they are not monolithic.

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