Ayla Acosta


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.




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9 Responses to Speechless

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I agree that the portrayal of a refreshing family dynamic on television has a huge impact on audiences today. Not having at least one aspect of an abnormal family would make a show almost completely irrelevant. I love that TV has come this far.

    Stephanie Rubin

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I haven’t heard of this show until now, but you have definitely made a good case for why I should watch the show. I also agree with Stephanie’s comment that it is nice to see TV continue to progress and not feel the need to portray families in the most ideal and perfect ways anymore like they once did in the sitcoms of the 1950s/60s

    -Max Lissette

  3. mediaphiles says:

    Wow! I haven’t heard of this show until now. It sounds incredible. I love shows that make an effort to represent our diverse American society, and it sounds like Speechless does just that. More shows need to portray families and individuals in realistic ways. I will definitely be tuning into this show!
    -Allie Kleinman

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I have heard good things about this show, and need to watch it! II agree with the points made in your blog and the previous comments about how diversity is more than just race and all kinds of people should be portrayed in realistic ways on tv! My best friend wants to be a special needs teacher and is currently working with several students with cerebral palsy, so I would love to hear her opinion of this show as well. – Sarah King

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I think this is such a good point that you bring up and they way you connect it to “black-facing”. I had never really though to connect the two before, but it totally makes sense. I really appreciate shows like Speechless and Glee who bring in characters with disabilities to be played by actual people with disabilities. It is a refreshing way to incorporate all types of people into shows on TV.
    Nicolette McCann

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I agree with the above comments. I had not heard about many of these points yet either! My final paper examines the progressivism of TV so this is fascinating to me – I’m excited to see other areas of progressivism being mentioned beyond solely racial equality and feminist movements, though those CERTAINLY still have much more work to do. This rocks! – Corey

  7. mediaphiles says:

    Love this post! I also can’t wait to watch this show… once I finish my current binges! I really appreciate the show’s depiction of a family with a child with a disability. Television is really lacking in its representation of disabled characters. Last spring semester I wrote a paper on Jewel, a disabled Deadwood character, and focused on the highly stereotypical nature of her character. I am pleased to hear that this show is breaking down some of these barriers! – Katie N

  8. mediaphiles says:

    I LOVE that this show features a couple with a disabled child. Can you name more than two shows on the air right now that feature disabled children? Not many that I can think of, if at all. This brings me back to Susan’s essay in the Sitcom Reader about Roseanne where she says, “There are gay and lesbian people in the world, so why not on TV?” There are disabled children in the world yet we don’t show them in roles on TV, lead or not. I think this is an important issue in television in order to gain access to all perspectives whether you experience it or not.

    -Meghan Murphy

  9. marymdalton says:

    I have recorded all of these episodes but haven’t watched anything except the pilot.

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