On this edition of “For Your Consideration,” we’re diving deep into ABC’s sitcom series Speechless, which premiered last Fall. This show was added to ABC’s night of Wednesday’s laughs smack dab between The Middle and Fresh Off The Boat. With it being its debut season, I’ll speak for everyone on our team and say we’re absolutely happy this show was picked up for a second season!
Actress Minnie Driver stars as the head of the DiMeo Family, Maya DiMeo, AKA the person literally no one wants to go against when it comes to arguments. However, that’s not to take away from every other member of the family: Jimmy (John Ross Bowie), her right-hand man and husband who could care less on just about everything; Ray (Mason Cook), the brains and “boujee” member of the family; Dylan (Kyla Kenedy), the sports-centric daughter; JJ (Micah Fowler), the oldest son with cerebral palsy; and Kenneth (Cedric Yarbrough), who is hired by the DiMeo family as JJ’s aide – to quite literally – speak for JJ. Together, this crazy family and aide make up the crazy show Speechless.
The DiMeo family is impossible to get along with, collectively. Especially with a mother like Maya DiMeo who will do absolutely anything to make sure her son JJ gets treated just like any other boy and in addition, receive the special attention she thinks he deserves (e.g. ramps at school). That’s why they moved to a brand new town to benefit JJ, for his chance to be part of an inclusive school and have an aide that they assume they won’t have to fire in the long run. Hence the reason for Kenneth, who JJ coincidentally had the chance to connect with and in the end, became the deciding factor for the family to say in the small town.
Why You Should Watch
Other than pointing out the big factor of having the story primarily focused on a family dealing with cerebral palsy, it’s the matter of seeing what it is like for those who aren’t familiar with this feeling/dynamic. As an audience member who isn’t directly affected by this disorder, it was enlightening to see it being portrayed as a family fighting against all odds on screen. Sure, Maya DiMeo could be a bit over the top at times but it isn’t to say it’s because she doesn’t care. It’s because she cares a lot. And I know if I was in her position as a mother, her actions are validated.
The rest of the family brings the comedic relief that the show deserves. It’s not always going to be serious and this goes to show cerebral palsy isn’t meant to always be portrayed as something that should never be talked about. It’s a normal thing and I love how the show pokes fun, but in a tasteful manner; not to insult, but just enough to show that this is normal. Not everyone has to be treated in a special way or pitied.
As I mentioned earlier, this show was picked up for a second season. Catch up now over the summer so you’ll be ready this coming Fall!