The single-camera comedy followed the DiMeo family, led by Maya (Driver), who did anything for her son J.J. (Micah Fowler), who has cerebral palsy. While she tries to get her own career off the ground, Maya was focused on getting J.J.'s future settled. At the end of Season 3, he graduated from high school and was hoping to attend film school.
After hearing the show was canceled, Driver took to Twitter to remind fans that the show was groundbreaking in its depiction of disability in a positive light.
"Well now listen. Speechless has been cancelled and it feels rather sad," the Oscar nominee tweeted. "However, I truly believe we have left this conversation about family, disability and love in a better place than we found it. I love all the people I worked with on it, and all of you who loved our show too x."
The cast also included Mason Cook, Kyla Kenedy, Cedric Yarbrough and John Ross Bowie. It was created by showrunner Scott Silveri and included Jake Kasdan and Melvin Mar as executive producers. Speechless was a 20th Century Fox Television and ABC Studios co-production.
When the series was first launched, there were questions about how funny it could be, with a disabled central character. However, once it aired, it quickly found a dedicated fan base.
“First and foremost, it’s just funny – that’s why people love the show,” Yarbrough told Variety in 2017. “And because it’s a family. It’s not anything other than what you see with a ‘typical family’ – mom, dad, a neighbor who also cares for the kids, and then the kids. So all those elements are all there, just like your Beaver Cleaver, The Cosby Show, just in a different kind of category.”
"You laugh and you cry when you watch this show, because it’s real life. You feel the emotions that everyone feels," Kenedy added.
“The disabled community can see to always go after your dreams and to always conquer any challenge that comes your way,” Fowler said of his character.
Speechless was a decent launch-point for ABC's Friday line-up for its third season, but was consistently among the network's lowest rated shows, notes Variety. It only averaged 2.3 million total live viewers and a 0.49 rating in the 18-49 demographic.
Photo credit: ABC