Ten one-hour episodes have been ordered on a third season of the series that follows young adults living with Down syndrome. Wrapping its second season this week, Born This Way follows a diverse group of young men and women and gives a voice to the parents as they help their children live as independently as possible.
In addition to its recent win during the two-weekend Emmy Awards ceremony, the series also was feted as one of six honorees for the 2016 Television Academy Honors, an award that recognizes television programs that shine a light on social issues.
A&E EVP/Head of Programming Elaine Frontain Bryant this morning called Born This Way “a shining example of what the entertainment business needs more of – powerful, thought-provoking storytelling with a greater purpose.”
EP Jon Murray describes the show as a lesson in learning that bigger is not always better and “earnest” not necessarily bad for a reality docu-soap.
Since the first season of the series, the cast and families have become more trusting of producers and crews, Murray said. “This was a big decision on the part of the young people and their families; they did not want a typical reality show made about them,” he said. “They did not want it to be The Real Down Syndrome Cast of Orange County.”
In Season 3, viewers might see people whoare already in the orbit of the main cast begin to play larger roles in the series.
“We learned quickly, with first rough cuts, that lot of the tricks that we use making other reality shows do not apply with this show,” Murray said. Typically, “you try to create some dramatic tension before you go out into commercial break, and try to cut in way creates suspense for what is going to happen. It didn’t play” on this series. “We sort of knew we had something very genuine and very authentic … had to go back to that and trusting the emotion of the scene and that the emotional connection viewers would have with the seven adults would carry through to commercial, and that’s very different.
“Ninety-nine percent of the notes I get from a network are ‘Make the moment bigger’ … and at A&E they had the same realization that this wasn’t going to work with this series, and would feel completely false. It’s interesting, we have a lot of scenes that … if you described some of our scenes to a typical network executive, they’d say it sounds a little earnest. People don’t like earnest” in this industry, he explained.
Born This Way is produced by Bunim/Murray Productions (The Real World). Executive producers for Bunim/Murray are Jonathan Murray, Gil Goldschein and Laura Korkoian. Kasey Barrett serves as co-executive producer. Executive producers for A&E Network are Elaine Frontain Bryant, Shelly Tatro and Drew Tappon. Born This Way is distributed internationally by A+E Networks.