This topic contains 13 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Ryan Berhar 1 month ago.

  • Author
    Posts
  • #18301
     Ryan Berhar 
    Keymaster

    Hey everyone, our next Disability in Media discussion will be about the show “Speechless”. The show is centered around a teenager, JJ, who has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal. The actor actually has CP, which is neat to see.

    I’ve only seen two episodes so far, but a few things jump out already. On JJ’s first day of school, the entire class, led by the teacher, gave him a standing ovation when he entered the classroom. The teacher proceeded to bombard him with some cliches, like telling him he’s an inspiration and so forth. While I never experienced anything quite that dramatic, it did remind me of my younger days when I’d return to school after being out sick for weeks, and my class would make a huge deal out of my return. I always dreaded it.

    My favorite part of the show so far is the relationship that JJ develops with his new aide, Kenneth. I actually found it quite heartwarming. He’s a real friendly, overly laid back dude who counteracts JJ’s extremely overprotective mother. Kenneth helps JJ dress up and  “talk” to girls, and other fun stuff. His mother initially disapproved of Kenneth, because, of course, she thought only she could care for JJ, but she changed her mind after seeing how well they worked together.

    Even though the show deals with a different disability, there are still many similarities to SMA. Have you guys seen the show? If so, what scenes stood out to you?

  • #18303
     DeAnn R 
    Keymaster

    This is a great one to “binge-watch.” It’s available for free from abc.go.com and I believe it’s on Hulu as well if you have a subscription. It’s been a while since I’ve watched those early episodes, but I recall that even though the school claimed to be accessible the ramp was a garbage route or something. It often bothers me when everyone enters here unless you’re in a wheelchair, then you go around back and enter over there. On one hand I’m grateful it’s accessible, but I can’t help feeling singled out and isolated a little. Especially when crap needs to be moved to clear the way. I understand that not a lot of people go through that way, but the path could still keep clear.

    Character development is great throughout the series as well. I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s fun watching all the relationships grow and evolve. As you said Ryan, Kenneth is great, but I also like the mother figure, Maya. As the show goes on she struggles with the balance of how much she should advocate for her son. In the beginning let’s just say she’s over the top, or as you put it Ryan, overbearing. Over time I think she realizes JJ can handle a lot of it on his own, but she still struggles letting go and stepping back. You can’t discount the siblings and father either. Jimmy is much more laid back, but he still wants the best for his kids. As siblings go, they often get on each others nerves yet still end up looking out for each other.

    One of the episodes that stands out in my mind is when an illness is spreading throughout the family. It’s just a simple virus, but as it goes great lengths are taken to prevent JJ from being exposed. Sometimes I wish my family would be that cautious. They’ve gotten better, but they definitely don’t quarantine themselves.

    Keep us posted Ryan on your progress of the series. It’s fun looking back on the show. I’d love to hear others thoughts as well! Favorite episodes? Favorite characters? Anything you find misrepresented?

  • #18320
     Kevin Schaefer 
    Keymaster

    I’m all caught up on the series now, and I really enjoyed the season three finale. I won’t spoil it for you, but it ties up so many storylines, and it sets it up perfectly for a fourth season. #RenewSpeechless

    Looking back at the earlier episodes, the scene in the pilot when JJ has that crazy lady as his aid is uncannily similar to one of my previous aides. She also was really overbearing and annoying, and she wouldn’t give me any space. Then, Kenneth is incredibly similar to my caregiver Randy. We often watch the show together, and we laugh at how many parallels there are between us and JJ and Kenneth.

    Like DeAnn said, I’d love to hear if you watch more. It’s a great sitcom, and it’s a great representation of a person with a disability his family. A lot of it is over the top, but that’s intentional.

  • #18635
     Ryan Berhar 
    Keymaster

    In a recent episode I watched, JJ’s mom forced the school to cancel a bonfire, as it was inaccessible. JJ was, of course, upset, because he basically became responsible for ruining the fun. As usual with this show, it’s an extreme example, but it raises an interesting point. Obviously, it’s nice if events are inclusive, but personally, I would much rather just sit out than demand I be included in something. That’s just my personality.  For me, this has applied more to family events. Have you guys dealt with these types of experiences? What’s your philosophy in dealing with them?

    • #18640
       Kevin Schaefer 
      Keymaster

      Great question! I remember this episode well. You’re right that it’s an over-the-top example, but it does raise an interesting point.

      For me personally, I think it’s good to find a balance. I recognize that I can’t do everything, and I don’t want to be intrusive. But at the same time, I want to be included in as much as possible.

      Actually, two of my recent columns touched on both sides of this spectrum.

      https://smanewstoday.com/2019/04/23/making-big-occasions-inclusive/

      https://smanewstoday.com/2019/04/16/marvel-movies-day-trips-adventure/

       

      • #18641
         Ryan Berhar 
        Keymaster

        Yeah, balance is good. I just don’t like getting into situations where it’s like “well we’d rather be doing this, but we’ll do this just to include Ryan.”

    • #18643
       DeAnn R 
      Keymaster

      I struggle with this issue. A cousin of mine had their kids graduation party at a venue not accessible. On one hand I didn’t want any of my family to attend. On another I know it wasn’t something they realized or did purposely to exclude me so my other family members shouldn’t miss out on my account. I ended up sending a card with my mom.

      On another occasion my Mom and I showed up to the restaurant where my sisters family was eating. They were sitting at the tall tables, so moved down to sit with us. My nieces made some comment about not wanting to leave the tall table, but gosh darn it they certainly could for me. Now every time we go there I want to make a comment that I guess they’ll have to suffer at the short table…but I don’t.

  • #18813
     Ryan Berhar 
    Keymaster

    So I watched the episode where JJ is supposed to have a day of fun with Kenneth, but Kenneth basically gets carried away using the “perks” of JJ’s disability for himself. Meanwhile, the rest of the family bonds by playing paintball —something JJ can’t do. There were definitely some funny moments, but I really did not enjoy this episode very much. Not only did the disabled guy get hosed, but his family was having a blast in his absence. Maybe I missed the point. Thoughts?

    • #18821
       Kevin Schaefer 
      Keymaster

      It’s been a while since I’ve seen this episode, but I do remember it.

      Regarding the JJ and Kenneth storyline here, I think it speaks to the growing pains of their relationship. Throughout the series, you’ll see both characters make mistakes and get on each other’s nerves. There are times when JJ takes advantage of Kenneth by volunteering him to go with him on social events without asking him. Here, Kenneth uses JJ to acquire “disability perks” without asking him how he feels. This in turn forces JJ to speak up for himself, and he and Kenneth grow closer as a result.

      I see your point, but that’s how I take it.

      • #18854
         Ryan Berhar 
        Keymaster

        Yeah, I think depicting the growing pains between JJ and Kenneth is definitely a worthwhile plot to explore. It sheds some light on a more negative side of things, which is fine with me, as it is a real part of life with a disability. I think it was the whole “family bonding without JJ” aspect that rubbed me the wrong way. It felt to me like “now that the disabled guy is out of here, we can have some fun for once.”

    • #18866
       DeAnn R 
      Keymaster

      I also remember this episode. This is a tough one. On one hand I’m all for my family doing the stuff I can’t when I’m not around, but sometimes I can’t help feeling a little left out and like you alluded to Ryan it can make me feel like I’m holding them back and they can have more fun when I’m not around. If I recall, they did miss having JJ there, but their excitement that they displayed to be doing this activity was kind of disheartening. On the flip side there’s things we’ve only been able to do because of my disability. The “disability perks” come into play here. As we’ve said before the show slightly exaggerates these issues. But they are issues nonetheless.

      • #18872
         Ryan Berhar 
        Keymaster

        Yeah I feel like it could have been done better. Like if the family is going to have fun without JJ, maybe pick a time when he himself actually IS having fun. Also, maybe don’t portray it as if the family is champing at the bit for him to leave. I don’t know. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

  • #18942
     Ryan Berhar 
    Keymaster

    I watched the Halloween episode. Following the episode where JJ takes advantage of Kenneth, the opposite happens here. More growing pains in the relationship. This episode was also about the parents initially feeling unneeded by their children, but they end up really needing them at the end. Nothing really disability related on that end, but sort of just a heartwarming aspect. JJ got drunk at the party, which, of course, is not something to be taken lightly, but it still made for some funny moments. What did you guys think about that part?

  • #19050
     Ryan Berhar 
    Keymaster

    The episode I watched today was my favorite yet. Not necessarily because of disability related stuff, but because it was hilarious. JJ has a crush on the new girl who’s in a wheelchair temporarily due to an injury. He shows her how he navigates the school and such, and they become friends. The funniest part involved Ray. I won’t go into detail here, as it’s probably a bit off color for this forum, but it was so funny. Some of you will remember it. Have any of you had an experience like JJ here where he befriends another disabled person and shows her around school? I can’t say that I have personally.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

  • Videos

  • ©2019 KLEO Template a premium and multipurpose theme from Seventh Queen

    CONTACT US

    We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

    Sending
    or

    Log in with your credentials

    or    

    Forgot your details?

    or

    Create Account

    Copyright © 2017-2019 All rights reserved.