Despite the title, no new show this season has more to say than Speechless

The new ABC sitcom stars Minnie Driver and John Ross Bowie as the parents of a fairly unique family who, as Bowie explains in the video above, "move into a crappy house in a really nice neighborhood in order to be in a better school district for their whole family, but in particular for their son JJ, who has special needs."  

JJ is played by Micah Fowler, who actually has cerebral palsy in real life, and is on his way to becoming a star. While Micah can speak with a lot of effort, JJ is totally nonverbal, so Fowler is mostly communicating with hilarious facial expressions while his "voice" is provided by costar Cedric Yarbrough

"There's nothing cognitively wrong with either JJ or Micah, and that's a key distinction that we should say from the outset," Bowie explains. 

Speechless, Minnie Driver


"He's an amazing person, but I'm really leery of putting Micah in a sort of cotton wool box," Driver says. "I think sort of society has done that, and that's why it's not been on television. People are scared of people with disabilities. They're scared of what that means, of how they're supposed to look and how they're supposed to interact." 

Both Bowie and Driver did their research before stepping into their roles. 

"I talked with some physical therapists and some people who work at schools designed for special needs children," Bowie says. "I have friends who have children with various disabilities, and I was able to talk to them about just sort of the struggle and the extra effort that has to be put into very commonplace things. I think we both feel a pretty big responsibility." 

"I didn't really talk to a lot of people, but I talked to Micah's mom, and I talked to [executive producer] Scott Silveri, who the show is loosely based around his life," says Driver. "His brother is a nonverbal man with cerebral palsy, so he grew up in this environment." 

Somehow, the show manages to be both important and hilarious, and if you ask us, it deserves a watch or two. 

Click play above to hear more from Bowie and Driver, including which celebrities they would choose to act as their own voices!

Speechless premieres tonight at 8:30 p.m. on ABC. 

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