Lifetime’s newest reality show, “Leave It To Geege,” sees Geege Taylor, a single mom and breast cancer survivor, on a mission to help other people on their journey of raising an autistic child.
The show debuted on Lifetime in January and from Feb. 10 will be transitioning from linear to digital, starting with a two-episode drop followed by weekly episodes rolling out on mylifetime.com, the Lifetime app and VOD.
Taylor, whose 19-year-old son Pootie was diagnosed with autism as a young child, says she had first wanted to open her doors to TV cameras over seven years ago. Speaking via Zoom, Taylor tells Variety, “When my son was first diagnosed, I started seeing so many depressing stories about autism in the media, and back then people were not talking about it.”
She says she felt alone and didn’t know many people she could talk to, but she knew she wanted to show a different side of autism. “My son is the biggest and brightest spot in my life, and my life is so much better with autism in it.”
Taylor met with World of Wonder co-founders and “Leave It to Geege” executive producers Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato and Tom Campbell who say they were instantly drawn to Taylor and her family. “When you meet Geege and then her family, you want to move in.” Barbato says. “At World of Wonder, we have the saying, ‘No is the beginning of yes.’ Like so many of our show ideas or pitches, people say no, until we wear them down to say yes, and sometimes that [process] is 10 years.”
In the interim, Taylor started documenting her family’s life on YouTube in her endeavors to put out a positive message. She says, “This shows our lives, and it’s necessary.”
The other draw for them to pursue this show and bring it to the small screen was the importance of neuro-atypical representation on television and demystifying stereotypes surrounding autism. Says Bailey of the show, “There’s this sense of Geege celebrating it. Sometimes there’s a heavy aura around ability issues. Sometimes it’s depressing. Geege’s whole approach was so radically different that this was a gift, and she is just a dynamo. This is just a great family that has great relationships and dynamics between people.”
Barbato hopes Taylor’s story can be inspiring. “It’s the universal feeling of heart and joy, and to see someone embrace the challenges of raising someone with severe autism, and her ability to be optimistic,” he says. “I would like to think that Geege can be an inspiration to people and open a lot of people’s minds.”
Bailey points out that “Leave It to Geege” is not a didactic show: “It’s not a preaching show. It’s a doing show. You’re in her world surrounded by her mom, daughter and this chosen family of the support team. We’re just immersed in her world.”
They’re not the only ones to believe in the show. Lifetime moved “Leave It to Geege” to a different platform in hopes that it would find a more robust audience, increasingly visibility to the neurodivergent community. Says Barbato, “[Lifetime is] just as excited about the show as we are. It’s a testament to the show that will never go away. Geege just keeps on giving.”