Beginning this Wednesday, ABC will be debuting two new shows on their network, including their brand new half-hour comedy series, Speechless and the political adventure drama Designated Survivor. ABC has created an immensely different network for itself and has spent much of their time since May essentially reinventing themselves and the series that they produce. Moving past last year’s spectacular, yet devastatingly cancelled series, Agent Carter, The Muppets, Galavant, The Family as well as others, the network has redeveloped itself under new president of ABC, Channing Dungey. One of the first additions to be seen out of this change were shows very much like Speechless and that should give us an idea of what’s to come for the network.
ABC currently boasts Black-ish, which has been praised for bringing attention to serious cultural issues in society, while being one of network TV’s funniest comedies. ABC seems to be attempting to recreate the success of Black-ish with the introduction of Speechless, which centers around a boy diagnosed with cerebral palsy and his family as they move into a new area. As they begin in a new school system, they encounter stereotypes towards people with disabilities and find that the school that has not yet adapted to the needs of children with disabilities. The one place were Speechless truly shines is in how it handles sensitive topics and addresses them accordingly. There are a few melancholy moments throughout that the pilot episode that are big, defining problems in the struggles that people with disabilities face and how the rest of the world reacts to it.
The area that Speechless doesn’t quite shine in is in its comedy. Which, of course, is a problem when your show is billed as a comedy. Speechless at times captures witty moments of inspiration and wisdom through social problems, but for the majority of the time falls flat. There’s an endless amount of potential for the show ahead for Speechless, and it will be worth watching just to see what it will grow to become. It will be some time before Speechless finds its footing in prime time television and once it sorts out its comedic sense of style. Speechless is a witty and nimble show that will perhaps leave an impact on television and change the world in the same ways that Black-ish is doing just later on that Wednesday night comedy block, but Speechless is evidently a brilliant show that is currently a bit of a muddled mess, heavily reliant on lazy humor where they strive so perfectly in other areas that they should be focusing more of their talents towards. But I have faith that Speechless will one day get to showing it’s true potential as there are no shortage of redeeming qualities about the series and it will be interesting to see how far the show goes in figuring out what works and what does not.
As far the survival odds of the show are, Speechless seems like a pretty safe bet for the network. ABC strives on family-based comedy series, and that pretty much dominates the comedy lineup for them, like Modern Family, Black-ish, The Middle, The Goldbergs, Fresh Off the Boat, Last Man Standing and The Real O’Neals, the comedic setting is a favorite of the network and Speechless should be another good addition to these series. Speechless is one of ABC’s most promising and witty series this fall, so it’s one I will be definitely keeping an eye on to see how far it can go.