Speechless brings the laughs and the feels each week on ABC. John Ross Bowie plays father Jimmy DiMeo on the hit comedy series. Jimmy is quickly becoming the heart and soul of the show.
Like many great couples, Jimmy and Maya DiMeo are strongly bonded but also very different. Maya (played by Minnie Driver) is typically more vocal and outspoken. But Maya could not take on all the big challenges that she does without having the solid support of Jimmy behind her. Maya takes charge while Jimmy takes care.
But don’t get me wrong, Jimmy does not remain silent by any means. In fact, he has some of the funniest lines on the show and some very impactful scenes. Some make you laugh out loud, others have you reaching for the tissues, sometimes both! I have compiled a list of my top 10 Jimmy scenes so far from the inaugural season of Speechless.
1 – Jimmy does not get rattled.
John Ross Bowie is a master at subtle, dry humor. When son Ray assumes the reference to his dad once being a graduate student with a promising career ahead of him is a joke, Jimmy simply nods and walks away.
It’s hilarious but also exemplifies how Jimmy’s feathers are not easily ruffled. His calm demeanor balances out Maya’s more assertive approach when the family tackles challenges.
2 – Napping at paintball
When son J.J. goes out for a full day of fun with his aide Kenneth, the rest of the DiMeo family brainstorms to think of a fun activity for themselves without the restrictions that J.J.’s wheelchair may normally pose. Jimmy’s first suggestion is a nap. (As a mom to a child with special needs, I can totally appreciate that!)
But the family settles on paintball. The family maps out their plan of attack while Jimmy strategically plans a “mission” of his own finding a barricade to nap behind!
3 – “The DiMeos are are not jerks, we’re idiots.”
Jimmy shares this with daughter Dylan when he discovers she has been pranking their neighbor with unsolicited pizza deliveries. Dylan initially misunderstands when Jimmy tries to teach her about being lousy neighbors.
What he means is that they should set the bar low so people do not expect them to do things like keep up the house, take their trash cans inside, etc. Those kinds of things just are not going to be priorities due to the complicated nature of their lives. He wants the neighbors to expect little of them but is not suggesting they act like jerks.
4 – Mad props for his musical talents
John Ross Bowie brings his own musical gifts to the character of Jimmy. Of course, Jimmy and Maya rock it out to announce the next family road trip in episode 11.
But when Jimmy breaks out into perfect harmony with Maya at the Star Gazer Inn, it is priceless. Amidst a heated exchange between Ray and Maya, Jimmy does not “skip a beat” when it comes to joining Maya’s song.
5 – In it for the long haul
When the DiMeo’s wheelchair accessible van is stolen (er, lost), J.J.’s wheelchair will not fit in Kenneth’s vehicle. But J.J. needs his chair at school. Jimmy, the ever faithful provider, rides J.J.s chair from home to school at an excruciatingly slow pace compared to vehicle traffic.
6 – Let it go.
So, how does Jimmy remain so calm all the time? How does he let off steam? Daughter Dylan has a penchant for losing her temper. Jimmy reminds her that she cannot always keep having outbursts when things seem unjust or unfair.
He shares his special way to get out his frustrations when we learn that Jimmy actually works at the airport counter. He takes Dylan outside and shows her how he lays down on his back looking up at the sky and shouts at the top of his lungs while planes take off. He teaches her a safe way to unload.
7 – “Yes, he’s mine.”
While normally insisting that J.J. is not different from other kids, Jimmy quietly professes to Maya that J.J. is different when he fears for his safety playing in a sled hockey league for those with disabilities. In regard to the special league, Maya asks Jimmy “Is he different from them?” Jimmy, replies “Yes, he’s mine” and our hearts melt over his love for J.J.
But the couple comes to an agreement that they have to let J.J. take some chances to show him what he can do instead of what he cannot. Later in the episode Jimmy expresses his delight over playing a sport with his son.
8 – “You, Ray, do not get to have anything go wrong with you.”
Try not tearing up a bit when Jimmy shares this sentiment with Ray right before he goes into surgery to have his appendix removed. Sure, Jimmy is sarcastically funny and doesn’t get rattled easily, but do not mistake that for lack of emotion. I think this dichotomy is one of many things that endears fans to Jimmy.
9 – “I matter. I matter.”
Indeed Jimmy is often in the shadow of Maya’s spotlight when it comes to figuring out how to address some of the family’s challenges. Maya typically takes charge of a plan. But when the couple is struggling to find common ground with insurance claims person, Janet, it is Jimmy who discovers a bumper sticker on Janet’s car revealing that she, too, has a kid that runs track.
They do have something in common. Seeing Jimmy recognize his value in the latest maneuver is truly delightful as he exclaims “I matter”, not once but twice. Cue the Sally Field acceptance speech!
10 – “We’re bulletproof.”
This is my favorite line from Jimmy so far. The scene is so telling in regard to the DiMeo family bond. Ray mistakes a neighbor’s college supplies for trash because the items are sitting at the curb. He is embarrassed about returning them. Ray asks his dad how he does not get more easily embarrassed.
Jimmy teaches Ray a lesson in picking your battles and not sweating the small stuff. Jimmy opens up to Ray about the magnitude of learning from the doctor for the first time about all the health problems and limitations J.J. would have. If they can get through all that as a family, nothing can touch them. They are “bulletproof”.
This scene meant so much to me personally and I find myself using it as a mantra when the challenges of being a special needs family arise. When our family was asked to light one of the Advent candles at church this year, it did not all go smoothly. My “typical” kid had trouble keeping the flame lit. I spoke the lines the congregation was supposed to sing. It was not perfect, but it was us. And the message was still the same. Plus, my daughter who is relearning to walk after a spinal cord issue “walked” to the front with the assistance of her gait trainer. Bulletproof!
There are definitely many more amazing Jimmy moments to share, but these were my top 10 so far. Please weigh in with a comment to share your favorite Jimmy scene in Speechless.
Keep your eyes peeled for posts about other favorite Speechless characters and most definitely tune in for the next episode on January 18th on ABC!
Writer, interviewer in metro Atlanta. Always ready to talk TV and movies. Wife, mom, special needs advocate.