The ABC sitcom Speechless, which premiered in 2016, has been discussed widely among various disability communities since its debut. Beyond the fact that it is about a family whose eldest son has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, the show is not afraid to tackle subjects like the protagonist’s desire to be independent, the “inspiration porn” stereotype, battles with insurance companies, and how living with a disability can affect a person’s family.
What’s really special about all this is that series creator Scott Silveri and the other writers examine these topics through a humorous lens, which is the direct antithesis of the numerous tragic stories about disability in popular media.
Season two of the series premiered this past Wednesday, and in this episode Silveri gave viewers something truly special. In season one, the show did address inter-abled romance through a story arc involving protagonist J.J. (played by Micah Fowler) and a girl from school who he had a crush on. Though the girl didn’t want to be anything more than friends with J.J., the way the writers handled this scene was especially honest and heartfelt. They wanted to make the point that J.J. is a normal high-schooler, and just like every teenager he’s going to face rejection from time to time. I applauded them for letting the girl be honest and not return J.J.’s love out of pity.
In the season two premiere, however, we learn that J.J. met a girl at summer camp who liked him. Though she lived states away, she wanted to see him before going home and wrote him a letter asking if he’d be her first kiss. By the time J.J. had received and read the letter, it was a day late and the girl had already left. However, once the rest of the DiMeo family found out about this, they loaded into their van and headed across the country to find this girl.
If you haven’t watched the show yet, the spontaneity and quirky adventures of the DiMeo family are some of its defining features.