Speechless (TV series)

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Speechless logo.png
Created byScott Silveri
ComposerJeff Cardoni
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes63 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time21 minutes
Production companies
DistributorDisney–ABC Domestic Television
Original networkABC
Picture formatHDTV 720p
Original releaseSeptember 21, 2016 (2016-09-21) –
April 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)

Speechless is an American television sitcom that aired on ABC from September 21, 2016, to April 12, 2019. Created by Scott Silveri and co-executive produced with Christine Gernon, Jake Kasdan, and Melvin Mar, the 20th Century Fox Television/ABC Studios co-production was greenlighted to series order on May 13, 2016.[1] A first-look trailer was released on the same day.[2][3] Starring Minnie Driver, John Ross Bowie and Micah Fowler, the sitcom explores the serious and humorous challenges a family faces with a teenager with a disability. On September 29, 2016, the series was picked up for a full 22-episode season.[4] An additional episode was ordered on December 13, 2016, for a 23-episode season.[5] On May 10, 2019, ABC cancelled the series after three seasons.[6]


Artwork used for season 1 parodying The Beatles' Abbey Road

The series follows the DiMeo family, each with a unique personality: Maya, a take-charge British mother with a no-holds-barred attitude; her husband Jimmy, who does not seem to care what others think; Dylan, their no-nonsense athletic daughter; Ray, their scholarly middle child who acts as the "voice of reason" in the family; and their oldest son, JJ — a high schooler who has a biting wit and sense of humor, and is diagnosed with cerebral palsy. JJ communicates by using headgear with a laser pointer to indicate various words, letters, and numbers on a board attached to his wheelchair. One of the reasons the DiMeos move frequently, is due to an attempt to find a good educational environment for JJ. They believe they have found an optimal choice when they discover a school that prides itself on being inclusive and where JJ will have an aide support him throughout the school day. Because the school is in an upscale part of town, Jimmy and Maya move the family into the cheapest, most rundown house in an otherwise nice neighborhood. Though they quickly find that not everything is as good as it could be. JJ enjoys having Kenneth, a gentle, well-meaning school groundskeeper with a deep and resonant speaking voice, work as his aide.

Cast and characters[edit]


  • Minnie Driver as Maya DiMeo,[7] the fierce and determined mother of the family
  • John Ross Bowie as Jimmy DiMeo,[8] the fun-loving, easily persuadable father of the family who is a supervisor of baggage handlers at the airport
  • Mason Cook as Raymond "Ray" DiMeo,[7] the middle child. Slender and nerdy, he faces constant harassment, mostly from Dylan.
  • Micah Fowler as Jimmy "JJ" DiMeo Jr.,[9] The eldest child with cerebral palsy. He is non-speaking (thus the show's title) and uses a wheelchair. He has a crush on Emma Watson, which serves as a running gag on the show.
  • Kyla Kenedy as Dylan DiMeo,[10] the athletic youngest child, and only daughter. She enjoys pulling pranks and harassing others, especially Ray.
  • Cedric Yarbrough as Kenneth Clements,[11] the good-natured aide to JJ who serves as his voice. Although he and Maya tend to butt heads, she is appreciative of his work.


Special guests[edit]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
123September 21, 2016 (2016-09-21)May 17, 2017 (2017-05-17)
218September 27, 2017 (2017-09-27)March 21, 2018 (2018-03-21)
322October 5, 2018 (2018-10-05)April 12, 2019 (2019-04-12)



On January 11, 2016, it was announced that ABC had given the production a pilot order as Speechless.[12] The episode was written by Scott Silveri who was expected to executive produce alongside Christine Gernon, Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar. Production companies involved with the pilot include Silver and Gold Productions, The Detective Agency, ABC Studios and 20th Century Fox Television. On May 13, 2016, ABC officially ordered the pilot to series. A few days later, it was announced that the series would premiere in the fall of 2016 and air on Tuesdays at 9:30 P.M. EST. On September 23, 2016, ABC picked up the series for a full season of 22 episodes and on December 13, they get only one episode. On May 12, 2017, ABC renewed the series for a second season which premiered on September 27, 2017.[13] On May 11, 2018, ABC renewed the series for a third season and announced it would air on Fridays at 8:30 P.M. EST and premiered on October 5, 2018.[14]


On February 24, 2016, it was announced that Cedric Yarbrough had been cast in the pilot.[11] In March 2016, it was reported that Minnie Driver and John Ross Bowie had also joined the pilot's main cast.[7][8]


Speechless aired on the network ABC for about three years before the ultimate decision to cancel it. The final decision to cancel the show was made due to the fact that it was the lowest-rated series on the network. Variety explains that the last, and concluding season, ranked the lowest within the network with only around 2.3 million live viewers.[15] Deadline notes that former ABC president, Karey Burke explained that the cancellation of the show Speechless was "gut wrenching" decision.[16] Ultimately, the choice was made due to the low number of viewers, as well as the introduction of a new show, Fresh Off The Boat.

One of the main actors, Minnie Driver, notes that while it is saddening that the show has been canceled, the main hope is that the show left a lasting impact on its audience.[17] Minnie Driver, who plays JJ's mom, continued to explain she believes that conversations regarding disability, love, as well as family have been left in better terms than they were found.[17] Another main actor, Micah Fowler, who portrays JJ on the show, took to Twitter to express his gratitude towards the fans, and staff, for the amazing life changing opportunity.[17] While the show was only on air for three years, it left a lasting impression on its audience.


Critical response[edit]

Speechless received largely positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the series has a rating of 98%, based on 41 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Speechless speaks to a sensitive topic with a heartfelt lead performance and a fine balance of sensitivity and irreverence."[18] On Metacritic, the series has a score of 79 out of 100, based on 29 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[19]

The editors of TV Guide placed Speechless seventh among the top ten picks for the most anticipated new shows of the 2016–17 season. In its review from writer Liam Matthews, "ABC has another worthwhile addition to its strong lineup of modern families with Speechless," adding "It's a clear-eyed and empathetic exploration of life in a special-needs family that makes plenty of room for hilarity."[20]


Speechless is one of the few shows that portrays the life of a teenager with a disability. It is also one of the few shows that has a disabled actor play the character. According to Bond, there are approximately 21 million children, between the ages of 5 and 15, that have a disability.[21] If television, and the media, were able to mirror the demographics of the U.S. then about 14% of characters would be disabled.[21] Speechless was just one example, however it was cancelled after a couple of seasons due to 'low ratings' despite a good audience reception. Bond notes that media representation of disability, both mental and physical, may impact audiences in a more profound manner than telling them what disability is like.[21] Through the introduction of physical disabilities, there is hope to integrate individuals into society, without prejudice and biases.[21] Bond continues to explain that children begin to distinguish and detect differences as young as 4 years of age.[21] Marquis notes that representations in movies like Still Alice and The Theory of Everything are two popular examples that perpetuate inconsistencies about the disabled body.[22] These authors explain that there is disability representation in the media, however it is lacking authenticity and adequate portrayal. Shows like Speechless should be given a platform, for the actors and production team, to speak on the issues surrounding representation.


Viewership and ratings per season of Speechless
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired TV season Viewership
Avg. viewers
Avg. 18–49
Date Viewers
Date Viewers
1 Wednesday 8:30 pm 23 September 21, 2016 (2016-09-21) 7.38[23] May 17, 2017 (2017-05-17) 4.52[24] 2016–17 63 6.23 TBD 1.9[25]
2 18 September 27, 2017 (2017-09-27) 5.03[26] March 21, 2018 (2018-03-21) 4.60[27] 2017–18 101 4.88 TBD 1.4[28]
3 Friday 8:30 pm 22 October 5, 2018 (2018-10-05) 2.43[29] April 12, 2019 (2019-04-12) 2.31[30] 2018–19 137 3.11 TBD 0.8[31]


Year Award Category Recipient(s) Result Ref.
2017 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actress In A New TV Series Minnie Driver Nominated [32]
Favorite New TV Comedy Speechless Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards Episodic Comedy Carrie Rosen & Seth Kurland for "R-A-Y-C-Ray-Cation" Nominated [33]
ICG Publicists Awards Maxwell Weinberg Award – Television Speechless Nominated [34]
Golden Trailer Awards Best Trailerbyte for a TV Series/Streaming Series Speechless Nominated [35]
Television Critics Association Awards Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming Speechless Won [36]

Home media[edit]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
Speechless: The Complete First Season 23 June 12, 2018
Speechless: The Complete Second Season 18
Speechless: The Complete Third Season 22 July 9, 2019[37]
iTunes Name Ep # Release Date
Speechless, Season 1-3[38] 63 April 13, 2019


  1. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 13, 2016). "ABC Picks Up Comedy Pilot 'Speechless' To Series, Renews 'Last Man Standing'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  2. ^ ABC (13 May 2016). "Speechless - First Look" – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Gennis, Sadie (June 28, 2016). "ABC Announces Fall Premiere Dates". TV Guide. Retrieved June 28, 2016.
  4. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 29, 2016). "'Designated Survivor' & 'Speechless' Get Full-Season Orders By ABC". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
  5. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (December 13, 2016). "6 ABC Comedies Score Additional Episode Orders". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  6. ^ Swift, Andy (May 10, 2019). "Speechless Cancelled at ABC". TVLine. Retrieved May 10, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Nellie, Andreeva (March 16, 2016). "Minnie Driver To Star In ABC Comedy Pilot 'Speechless', Mason Cook To Co-Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  8. ^ a b Nellie, Andreeva (March 23, 2016). "'Big Bang Theory's John Ross Bowie To Star In ABC Comedy Pilot 'Speechless'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  9. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (March 24, 2016). "Young Special Needs Actor Cast in Minnie Driver's ABC Comedy Pilot 'Speechless'". Variety. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  10. ^ Wagmeister, Elizabeth (March 23, 2016). "'The Walking Dead' Alum Joins Minnie Driver in ABC Comedy Pilot 'Speechless' (Exclusive)". Variety. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  11. ^ a b Petski, Denise (February 24, 2016). "'Lopez' Casts Ashley Zamora; Cedric Yarbrough Joins ABC Pilot 'Speechless'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 11, 2016). "ABC Orders Family Comedy Pilots From 'Friends' Alums Scott Silveri & Andrew Reich". Deadline. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  13. ^ Otterson, Joe (July 24, 2017). "ABC Sets Fall Premiere Dates for Marvel's 'Inhumans,' Daveed Diggs' 'The Mayor'". Variety. Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  14. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (May 11, 2018). "Speechless Renewed for Season 3". TV Line. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  15. ^ Turchiano, Danielle (2019-05-10). "'Speechless' Canceled After Three Seasons at ABC". Variety. Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  16. ^ White, Peter (2019-05-14). "'Speechless' Cancellation Was A "Gut Wrenching" Decision For ABC Chief Karey Burke". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  17. ^ a b c Evans, Greg (2019-05-10). "Minnie Driver, Micah Fowler On 'Speechless' Cancellation: Show Made Positive Impact". Deadline. Retrieved 2022-05-02.
  18. ^ "Speechless (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved September 20, 2016.
  19. ^ "Speechless reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved February 8, 2017.
  20. ^ "Our 10 Most Anticipated New TV Shows of Fall 2016" from TV Guide (September 16, 2016)
  21. ^ a b c d e Bond, Bradley J. (2013-03-22). "Physical Disability on Children's Television Programming: A Content Analysis". Early Education & Development. 24 (3): 408–418. doi:10.1080/10409289.2012.670871. ISSN 1040-9289.
  22. ^ Marquis, Elizabeth (2018-11-02). "Beautiful minds and unruly bodies: embodiment and academic identity in Still Alice and The Theory of Everything". Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education. 39 (6): 829–840. doi:10.1080/01596306.2017.1301881. ISSN 0159-6306.
  23. ^ Porter, Rick (September 22, 2016). "Wednesday final ratings: 'Empire' adjusts up, 'Designated Survivor' adjusts down". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 22, 2016.
  24. ^ Porter, Rick (May 18, 2017). "'Empire,' 'Blindspot' finale adjust up: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 18, 2017.
  25. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (May 26, 2017). "Final 2016-17 TV Rankings: 'Sunday Night Football' Winning Streak Continues". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on June 2, 2017. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  26. ^ Porter, Rick (September 28, 2017). "'Survivor' premiere adjusts up: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 1, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  27. ^ Porter, Rick (March 22, 2018). "'Survivor,' 'The Goldbergs' and 'Modern Family' adjust up, 'Speechless' adjusts down: Wednesday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on March 23, 2018. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  28. ^ "2017-18 TV Series Ratings Rankings: NFL Football, 'Big Bang' Top Charts". Deadline Hollywood. May 22, 2018. Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  29. ^ Welch, Alex (October 8, 2018). "'The Cool Kids,' 'MacGyver,' everything else unchanged: Friday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on October 9, 2018. Retrieved October 8, 2018.
  30. ^ Welch, Alex (April 15, 2019). "'Blindspot' adjusts down: Friday final ratings". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on April 15, 2019. Retrieved April 15, 2019.
  31. ^ de Moraes, Lisa (May 21, 2019). "2018–19 TV Season Ratings: CBS Wraps 11th Season At No. 1 In Total Viewers, NBC Tops Demo; 'Big Bang Theory' Most Watched Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 9, 2019.
  32. ^ Hipes, Patrick (November 15, 2016). "People's Choice Awards Nominees 2017 — Full List". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on May 3, 2017. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  33. ^ Schwindt, Oriana (December 5, 2016). "Writers Guild TV Nominations: 'Stranger Things,' 'Westworld,' 'This Is Us,' 'Atlanta' Break Through". Variety. Archived from the original on December 6, 2016. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  34. ^ Petski, Denise (January 18, 2017). "ICG Publicists Announce 2017 Nominees". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  35. ^ Hipes, Patrick (May 12, 2017). "Golden Trailer Awards Nominees: Warner Bros & 'Lego Batman' Lead Pack". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  36. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (August 5, 2017). "TCA Awards: The Handmaid's Tale, Atlanta, Big Little Lies, Carrie Coon Among Big Winners". TVLine. Retrieved August 24, 2017.
  37. ^ "Speechless: The Complete Third Season #024543637455". www.moviezyng.com. Archived from the original on 2019-07-13.
  38. ^ Speechless, Seasons 1-3, retrieved 2019-05-11

External links[edit]