This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Kevin Schaefer 4 days, 17 hours ago.

  • Author
  • #18301
     Ryan Berhar 

    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 

    This is a great one to “binge-watch.” It’s available for free from 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 

    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.

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