I love it when a new show comes on that is refreshing and totally different than what we are used to. That’s what ABC’s new comedy Speechless is. Created by Scott Silveri (creator of Friends) it centers around Maya DiMeo, a wife and mother who is fiercely protective of her husband, Jimmy, and their three children, Ray, Dylan, and J.J who is challenged in mobility and speech. She and her family work hard to make sure J.J. has a voice of his own.
I got to visit the set, talk to the cast, and learn about why the show was created from Scott Silveri. He grew up with a sibling who, like J.J. was impaired. Seeing the opportunity to pull from his own experiences, he felt like it was the right time. He wasn’t sure how his family would react but got a pleasant response.
They were really incredibly supportive about it. I made it clear from the beginning to them, as I try to make clear to anybody else, this is not their story. What’s important to me is to capture a couple of elements, um, about the time we had growing up. I think choice is very important in how you live your life.
I feel like you can take whatever challenge is thrown your way and wallow in it or turn to something – let it define you, have it make you a better person or more fun person or more interesting person. You can curse the heavens or you can band together and make it work. And that’s what my mom did. That’s what my dad did. And I wanted to celebrate that at every turn.
The set itself looks like a very lived in home (without a ceiling of course). If you have seen the show you will know that Maya (Minnie Driver) and Jimmy (John Ross Bowie) are pack rats who can’t seem to throw anything away. They also want the worst house in the best neighborhood, so their home is a smattering of random junk and furniture from the 1970’s, like that octagon table your grandmother probably had. Fix-its like a fish tank for a tv stand are funny touches to the overall “my decor is secondary to my family” mentality the DiMeo family has.
I also got to meet the cast – Minnie Driver, Jimmy Ross Bowie, Cedric Yarborough, Micah Fowler, and Mason Cook & Kyla Kennedy.
If you haven’t watched Speechless, I would highly suggest it. Minnie Driver is hilarious and Micah Fowler, although doesn’t speak with vocal chords, has a unique and comedic voice that shouldn’t be missed. Watch Wednesdays at 8:30pm on ABC!