Praise For “Speechless”.

I should have sang this past Fall’s new show on    the network ABC:   ‘Speechless’  way before now. However, the episode I recently watched,  entitled “D-I- ING” had me laughing so hard I was crying and my belly hurt from being in such stitches. I just can’t stay quite any longer!

First off, “Speechless” is a half hour comedy about a family. There’s the parents and three kids. The oldest kid JJ has CP.  The Premier kicked off with the mom announcing to the kids that they were moving to another in a long line of schools. This school was going to be different in the fact that JJ would have a full-time aide who would read his communication board for him, and thus he’d have audible  voice. The thought that ran through my mind was, why didn’t JJ have a communication device that had voice out-put?   I quickly reflected that it’s up to the individual’s preference as to how they want to communicate, and maybe JJ feels more connected and communicates faster when people read his board with him pointing to the words he wants with his laser pointer  Not to mention the fact that JJ uses the laser pointer in numerous ways; he’d be lost without it!

JJ’s family seems over-the-top; especially Mia, his mom.  However, she’s just passionately fighting for the rights and services her child needs?  Parents who have children with disabilities should be praised for knowing their child’s  needs.  Not have the school administrators cringe at the sight of caring parents marching down their halls in determination.

Take for instance, on the kids first day at the new school, Mia was disappointed to find the only entrance into the school JJ could use was a ramp at the back of the school.  Oh, how I can relate; I’ve entered plenty of buildings through egress of back door ramps made solely for the ease of taking  out garbage.  Just after all three of her kids entered the school via the “back door”,  Mia who was complaining her son had to enter school via the garbage ramp, seized the perfect opportunity to teach the principal a lesson.  Out came a janitor (Kenneth) with a cart that held half landscaping supplies and  garbage.  The crazed mom played, Trash Or Person with the principal.  First she pretended to shake Steven Hawking’s hand, then she preceded by holding up objects and asking if they were trash or person.  When Mia asked the principal if she was trash or a person, she was so overwhelmed by Mia, that for a second she didn’t know how to answer.

Things I like about the show;

When JJ’s new aide turns out to not be the “right fit”.  JJ finds someone he likes, gives him an impromptu interview,  and hires him.  His choice of an aide was accepted by everyone involved; much to the chagrin of Mia, who got off on the wrong foot with Kenneth.

I love that JJ’s siblings are always around and willing to read his board for him.  Also, when his ill-fitted aide questions JJ’s input in his family’s conversation.  His dad off-offhandedly took a second to correct her, that JJ’s comments were wanted and appreciated.

Things I have trouble believing about the show:

I never had my aide come home with me after school or on the weekends, except on rare occasions for some milestone party. The fact that JJ’s school aide helps out at the family’s home is pure luxurious fiction on the shows part!

JJ’s family always seem to be around to read his comm board. My family didn’t do that. However, often when I was totally immersed in typing a school report, or my own personal journal, I would be startled to feel hot breath on my neck as members of my family read my words over my shoulders.

JJ’s family uses his disability as an excuse to act slovenly.  I don’t understand that, at all! My family never did that!

It’s a half hour show, geared for fast pace, funny story lines.  Sometimes it takes me a whole half hour to communicate a thought.  JJ’s rate of .communication is way too fast for someone who accesses his communication device via an inferred laser head-pointer.

However, everyone needs to understand this point; every episode of Speechless has two or more nuggets of truth in them.

In the episode, “D-I- ING”, the family is shopping at a new store for them because its the only store that carries an ingredient that  Ray (JJ’s brother) needs for a graded school project.   Well, as it turns out Ray accuses Mia of dinging the passenger door to the car she parked by, and they’re  thus occupied bickering over that.  Jimmy (JJ’s dad) sets out to prove to Dylan (JJ’s sister) that he can deliver on a promise, and the pair team  up in that quest.  JJ is left alone to gather his portion of the shopping list.

During his time in the store, a number of people asked JJ if he had a license to drive his power chair. Right after the first person asked JJ that question Dylan bet JJ on how many people would ask that same question.  The only person who caught JJ’s eye-roll after asking that question was the guy behind the meat counter.  Then he acknowledges his fop aw, and JJ accepts his apology.  The next second meat counter guy witnesses someone else’s greater mistake.  A fellow shopper, engrossed in talking on his phone, absentmindedly uses JJ’s chair controller to move JJ out of his way.

JJ who suddenly finds the offending shopper’s grocery list in his lap, schemes to be a real obstacle to the shopper. JJ’s antics are totally unrealistic at times, but non-the-less I was right there rooting JJ on. Where was Kenneth in all the mayhem the family was causing? He was there managing to save the day.  Pun intended!  Just watch the show already!