ABC’s new comedy Speechless is a refreshing view of a family dynamic. The new theme for television is to be inclusive of all individuals, because that is what people want to see. Shows such as Modern Family have broken the boundaries of the old rules and guidelines that have previously been set by other shows. Modern Family brought with it the idea of gay couples, adoption, age differences in marriage, and what other people might call a “broken family.” Speechless, however not has diverse, does focus on a different group of minorities: disabled children. What I love the most about this is that the character JJ is played by Micah Fowler who has low cerebral palsy. “A recent study showed that less than 1% of TV characters have disabilities — and 95% of those roles are played by actors without disabilities” (Buzzfeed). So instead of taking on the theme of “black facing” disabled characters, the show stayed true to the description of the character.
Speechless also uses comedy as a way of bringing to light the societal problems that have a bigger impact on minorities. An example of this is in the third episode “B-O-N–BONFIRE.” Here, the Mother character Maya DiMeo works hard to change a school event so that it will accommodate JJ. The episode brings to light not only the fact that people like JJ should be offered a chance to attend such events, but even lashes out at the double standard of lashing out at special needs children when the students are conflicted with being upset towards JJ.
The show exemplifies yet another step of progress for sitcoms and televisions by providing an outlet for yet another minority group.