I’ll admit, this one got me kind of excited and laughing. As ABC is rolling out its promos for its new upcoming shows and comedies, I happened to catch the trailer for “Speechless,” a new half-hour sitcom slated for the Fall 2016 schedule. It’s described as: “Maya DiMeo (Minnie Driver) is a mother who is willing to do anything for her family. Her son, JJ (Michah Fowler) has cerebral palsy and she will fight for justice in order to give him what he deserves.”
They manage to fit in most every disability issue, problem, challenge and triumph in this three minute promo, and I grant you that it will be monumental challenge to walk the line between disability advocacy and story telling and comedy without falling victim to widely-held tropes and viewpoints about disability living.But. BUT, it looks promising. It looks funny! Too many times I found myself chuckling and nodding, because we’ve been there – the difficulty of being a parent advocating for your kid and sometimes getting labeled as pushy and overbearing by school administrators. Siblings feeling slighted and overlooked because so much attention is given to the child with special needs (yeah – tons of parental guilt on that one), the beauty of a great fit between the child and his/her aide or support staff in school.
And the thing I like best thus far as the promos roll out for this comedy — the character in the show with cerebral palsy is played by an actor with cerebral palsy. Boom. Because all too often a character who has a disability is played by a non-disabled actor. Check it out!