How the Sitcom ‘Speechless’ Understands Families Like Mine 美情境喜劇「無言有愛」 抓住我的心

文/Neil Genzlinger

If you live in a household like mine — one with a nonverbal child — you’re anticipating one television show above all others this fall: “Speechless,” which begins Sept. 21 on ABC. A prime-time series on a major network about “us”? It’s occasion for excitement, and for reflection. What, exactly, do we who live in the “Speechless” universe hope this series will accomplish?

“Speechless” is a classic domestic comedy — yes, a comedy — centered on a 16-year-old named JJ DiMeo who has cerebral palsy, can’t speak and uses an alternative-communication device to express himself. He’s the eldest of three children, and he’s played by Micah Fowler, who has cerebral palsy, a casting decision that alone makes this series stand out.



Minnie Driver portrays his mother, Maya, who like a lot of parents of children with disabilities sometimes turns into a wild-eyed, not-always-rational warrior for her son. JJ has two siblings (Mason Cook and Kyla Kenedy) whose own needs tend to get overlooked, a common thing in such households. John Ross Bowie plays the father, Jimmy, who struggles to keep Maya from sailing off the edge.

When ABC picked up this show last spring, word spread quickly through the chat rooms and Facebook pages where nonverbal people and their parents hang out. The YouTube trailer has had about 1.5 million views. I watched the pilot episode over the summer at Camp Communicate in Maine, which is for children who use alternative-communication devices. Staff members and campers watching with me agreed: Whoever’s behind this show “gets it.”

There’s a reason for that: The show’s creator, Scott Silveri, grew up in a home much like the one in “Speechless,” with a nonverbal brother with cerebral palsy and other health issues.




“It’s a story that I’ve been wanting to tell as long as I’ve been writing,” said Silveri, who has written and been a producer for “Friends” and other shows. “Not so much focused on doing a story about disability; I was really interested in doing a family show and exploring how one family member with a disability affects everybody else and turns them into the specific kind of weirdos that they become.”

It is largely unexplored territory. For decades, enduring TV characters with a disability were rare. Name one from the medium’s first 50 years. “Ironside,” says practically everyone. Name five more? Not so easy.

席維里也是 「六人行」等節目劇本作者兼製作人。他說:「這是個打從我開始寫作以來,就一直想要寫的故事。不完全聚焦在敘述一個關乎殘疾的故事;我對製作家庭劇,以及探討家裡一個殘障成員如何影響所有其他人,最後還把他們變成某種怪物真的很感興趣。」



說文解字看新聞 文/王麗娟

美國廣播公司(ABC)的新電視連續劇(TV series)「Speechless」(無言有愛,暫譯)是部情境喜劇(sitcom),sitcom是situation comedy的結合字,指的是由數個主角,演出有趣、幽默的情境,且通常是發生於日常生活(day-to-day life)的境遇。

「Speechless」和以往情境喜劇的不同,在於主角是個身心障礙的小孩,這在電視劇中極其少見。現今英文已少用handicapped(殘障的)和crippled(跛腳的),因為有歧視之嫌,而多使用disabled或disability(身心障礙)。本文也以children with disabilities(身心障礙兒童)和 TV characters with a disability(身心障礙的電視角色)介紹,以示尊重。













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