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‘SPEECHLESS’ fans make noise with season 4 renewal campaign

SPEECHLESS - "A-C-- ACTION" (ABC/Eric McCandless) MICAH FOWLER, MASON COOK
SPEECHLESS - "A-C-- ACTION" (ABC/Eric McCandless) MICAH FOWLER, MASON COOK

Speechless fans are anything but silent.

Speechless looks at family life through the unique lens of disability. The series follows the DiMeo family whose oldest son JJ has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal. JJ communicates with the help of someone who reads the words he points to on the word board attached to his wheelchair.

https://twitter.com/Speechless_ABC/status/1116868352213782528

Some fans appreciate the representation of disabilities on network television. Other fans simply enjoy good comedy. Of course, it’s possible to fall into both of these camps! This clever comedy on ABC means a great deal to fans and they are petitioning the network to renew Speechless for a fourth season.

Here are just a few reasons to click the link and sign.

Familiar issues, not so familiar methods

One of the best things about Speechless, aside from being hysterically funny, is its ability to show that special needs families deal with the same issues other families do. Sure, special needs families have some additional obstacles and they may have to tackle some issues differently, but they still have to deal with school, neighbors, the mortgage, sibling rivalry, and so on.

Take a look at oldest son JJ DiMeo who has cerebral palsy.

  • JJ plays pranks.
  • JJ has a sense of humor.
  • JJ experiences vulnerability.
  • JJ goes on dates.
  • JJ likes to dance.

Doesn’t that sound like most typical teenagers?

  • JJ is non-verbal.
  • JJ has a physical therapist.
  • JJ relies on his wheelchair and is disappointed when accessible entry is not available.

Okay, some things are not so typical. Again, that makes Speechless extra special and interesting. It shows a family handling familiar things in a way that is not always so familiar.

LOL. It’s really funny.

Did I mention how funny Speechless is? That’s a given. With Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie, and Cedric Yarbrough on board, you get an insanely funny mix of humor. The kids played by Micah Fowler, Mason Cook, and Kyla Kenedy bring the comedy chops as well.

The entire premise of JJ’s communication method sets up some fantastic humor as well. His aide Kenneth has a deep voice that does not seem like it would even match JJ’s. Sometimes things get lost in translation between the board and Kenneth. Sometimes Kenneth inserts his own ideas all together. Sometimes Kenneth breaks into song.

Authenticity

Speechless boasts authenticity by casting JJ with a disabled actor. Micah Fowler who also has cerebral palsy plays JJ with such charm. You cannot help but fall in love with Micah’s performance. He is a gifted actor who plays JJ with an amazing repertoire of expressions and gestures. Micah nails the glare, the stare, the side-eye, the boisterous laugh, the endearing smile, the look of surprise, and so much more.

I have a personal stake in initiating this renewal campaign. My daughter Kasey is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair.  The show is a bright spot for me and so relatable. Kasey and I recently had the pleasure of sharing coffee (and milk!) with John Ross Bowie who plays dad Jimmy DiMeo on Speechless.

I have not shared much about this special visit, but I think you all should know a couple of things. John wanted to learn how Kasey’s speech device works. He spoke to Kasey, not just about her. This is huge and not only reflects John’s integrity, it also shows that Speechless has done a fabulous job of creating an authentic awareness among its actors. I have no doubt that the rest of the cast is similarly thoughtful and respectful about disability issues.


So, can you help by spreading the word about the petition and adding your signature?

Maybe you are already a fan or maybe this post has you interested.

Either way, let’s join forces to campaign for Speechless to stay on the air!

1 Comment

  1. For Speechless to be cancelled is an absolute disgrace!! Speaking as someone who has a disability, I think this show was great and was helping people change their perceptions of disability. And that is why I am very unhappy that you cancelled such a show just after 3 seasons. I am very displeased!!

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