ABC, the company behind hits like Rosanne, Home Improvement, Modern Family and Last Man Standing, my now second favorite show on the network, once again nailed it with Speechless. Speechless stars Micah Fowler, a teenager with CP who plays JJ Dimeo, who has moved into a new neighborhood, going to a new high school. He uses a wheelchair and can't speak but uses a pointer and pictures to convey his thoughts and feelings. JJ's mother, Maya, played by Minnie Driver, is his protective, sometime overbearing mother is out to ensure he gets a decent education. This causes Maya and her husband, Jimmy, played by John Ross Bowie, to move JJ, their other son Ray, played by Mason Cook, and their daughter, Dylan, playeds by Kayla Kennedy
As JJ enters his new high schoolne of the requirements Maya makes to the school is to provide JJ with a full-time aide, at first they choose a hyper-active woman, but she didn't work out. I thought the writers ripped this scene out of my own life! I was cheering at the Tv he school was also physically ill-prepared to get JJ into the building and wind up getting into the building using a ramp to take trash out. While there, they run into the janitor, Kenneth, played by Cedric Yarbrough, connection formed. JJ's first aide is this woman who babies him and is trying to please Maya too much.It's obvious she's headed out the door. The show can only handle one crazed woman, and that's Maya for sure. Halfway through the pilot JJ and Kenneth bump into each other at a fair and things click. Maya marches into school and says Kenneth should be JJ's new aide. Kenneth understands what JJ needs socially, which is where I hope the show goes. I'm hoping Maya will let go a little and Jimmy won't be a total dufus going forward. Although based on the shows, I listed above, it doesn't look
I went on IMDB and Facebook just to take a peek at the reviews, they were about right on par for every new show. Some loved it, most of the negative comments stemmed from Maya's treatment of other people who she thought crossed her son. While I understand this is often the basis of the comedy, it's going to grow old quickly! The writers need to lay off Maya, and focus\ on teen issues, like they did in the shows I mentioned earlier. I lost interest in Modern Family because they overplayed their diversity message big time!! T he audience was constantly reminded, "We're different, so you needaccept us". There wasn't any true push back to resisting inclusion, something wasn't right, it had to be corrected by the end of the show. Although some might say this is the point of these shows, I want Speechless to be "different". It's this mentality and writing style that attracted the negative feedback.
Having Micah Fowler play JJ is a big step in the right direction in including people with disabilities in our culture. One of the show's writers has a son with CP, which is another step in the right direction. It would be another big step if they allowed someone with CP to offer an idea for an episode or two. Someone who has been through it and knows what JJ is going through. If I were Micah I would be dropping ideas and hints to the writers, I would even allow someone t o voice these ideas for me. If I knew the show's creators greenlighted an episode written by someone with CP, that would leave me..........speechless.