Another show that David and I have decided to give a try is Speechless. This show stars Micah Fowler playing JJ Dimeo, a kid with cerebral palsy, which is not too much of a stretch for Micah as he himself suffers from a milder form of the disease. As a kid he has been on shows such as Sesame Street, but this is an opportunity to do so much more.
Now while the main character does seem to be JJ it is not just about him, but about his whole family. What is great is while they do not try to downplay the fact that JJ is in a wheelchair, it is focusing on him trying to navigate being a teenager. The focus of the first episode is trying to find someone to be the voice of JJ since he cannot talk himself, and it starts out pretty badly. The short of it is that the family dynamic is part of what makes this show great. It is a family trying to navigate a lot of different issues – including living in a new place – and that is part of what makes it great.
A Family Affair
All of the characters in this show are just fantastic. First we get Minnie Driver playing Maya Dimeo, and she is amazing. She is JJ’s mother and she will do anything for her son and not be quiet about it. At the same time she goes a little overboard because she has made her family move and switch schools almost five times in two years. The reason for the moves is the fact that each one did not do enough fast enough for her son, and fighting for him is great, but then when you also see that there are two other kids influenced by this it becomes a bit more complicated. The husband/father is great because he knows to stand back and let the wife rail, but then helps to bring her back to reality. They take it to some extremes, but in the end the heart of the show is definitely the family and them working together.
Finding JJ a Voice
The crux of the first episode – and the reason for the Dimeo’s most recent move – is that in a certain city and a specific school they will assign an advocate to JJ so that he does not have to attend special education class. Instead he gets to be integrated into the regular classroom. When they first arrive and meet his advocate it is a lady with a fairly high pitched voice, which is frustrating for JJ because he wanted someone who sounded cool. She goes around with him all day speaking for him by reading off of a board where he points to words and letters to speak.
In the end it doesn’t work out, but later on JJ ends up talking with the school maintenance guy and asks him if he will take the job. It will be really interesting to see this guy with a smooth deep voice speaking for this teenage kid. At the same time there is something great about helping someone find a voice.
The funny moments are not making fun of JJ and they are not really about making fun of anyone, it is more about those moments we have all had when things do not go as expected. Or those people who sometimes do not know when to stop. I think one of the better running gags throughout the show was the fact that there were multiple times that Maya Dimeo sped past the cops in a vehicle and the cops would literally just stop, see who it was, and say not worth it. I loved the fact that even the cops just did not want to deal with this woman. Yes, she can be overbearing and over the top, but at the same time she loves her family so much. There were just so many moments that left David and I laughing out loud.
David and I are definitely planning to keep watching this show. It has been a while since a half hour comedy has made me laugh so hard and it is great to have a shorter show to watch in the mix. So many shows are either serious hour long drama or even hour long action, but when you can tell a good comedic story in thirty minutes it is just so good!