Monday, November 14, 2016

Let's Talk About Speechless 1x06 'D-A-T-E--DATE" (A Guest Post by Tara)

Hi everyone!  I’m Tonia’s sister, Tara.  She was so kind as to allow me to review last week’s episode of Speechless, “"D-a-t-e-Date?"

[Image is: Several red hearts with black outlines floating in the air]

Overall, I have really been enjoying this series.  And this episode was no exception.  

This week, JJ meets an injured gymnast.  He immediately notices and disapproves of her red parking placard, signifying her temporary disability.  Kenneth urges JJ to give the girl a chance as he is simultaneously implored by a teacher to show his fellow disabled student around.  At this point in the show, I’ll admit, I was cringing.  (And JJ was too!)  The whole “disabled people only date/marry other disabled people” trope is super tired.  That said, the storyline played out fairly well.  JJ ends up getting to know Gymnast Girl while confronting his own insecurities, and the episode ended with him asking her to watch a movie with him.  She accepts genuinely.  

I was super happy to see JJ with a personal storyline this week, instead of a storyline that focused solely on accessibility like we’ve seen in the past.  However, I will say that the therapy scene tread on some thin ice as far as inspiration porn.  

We see Gymnast Girl stand for the first time, after being encouraged and inspired by JJ.  

Do disabled people draw strength from each other?  Absolutely.  The scene does have merit.  However, as Gymnast Girl is essentially an injured able-bodied person, having her draw inspiration from JJ - a permanently disabled character - just feels a little gross.

Other highlights?  

Dylan gets in trouble at school for destroying a participation trophy.  I enjoyed seeing Jimmy guide her through appropriate coping strategies.  (I would love to see JJ and Jimmy bond at some point - have we seen this yet?)

What did you think of last week’s episode?  Sound off in the comments!  


Connect with Tara here


  1. Hiii Tara!!

    I just watched this episode and then immediately proceeded over here to read your review of it. You make some very valid points, and I agree that the disability representation in this episode wasn't egregious (even if that PT scene *was* a little questionable). Even so, I'm not a huge fan of the show -- and not necessarily for disability-related reasons. I really do appreciate that they're trying to do a show that involves disability topics, but to me, the acting often seems overstated and it's hard for me to buy into a lot of the scenes. For example, I'm skeptical that Gymnast Girl can go from being 110 percent against being in a wheelchair, humiliated and angry and saying stuff like, "I can't take this test, b/c it involves MARCHING" -- to being totally accepting of it after a 5 minute tour with JJ. I dunno, it just seemed forced to me, as did Dylan's trophy smashing and her angry outburst at the trophy shop. I'll probably keep watching out of curiosity -- and it *is* a mildly entertaining show, but IMO it's not funny enough to be a comedy and it's not deep enough to be moving, so I just don't feel that much of a connection to it. Too harsh? Maybe; I'm willing to give it another shot this week.

    I'd love to see JJ/Jimmy bonding as well! I really liked your take on this episode. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi K!

      Thanks for reading! Truth time? I am not the biggest fan of this show either - comedies in general, actually. However, most of the time, I can appreciate what the show attempts to accomplish through humor.

      I enjoy the characters and Minnie Driver as an actress. As I have so little to draw on in my experience of comedies, I'm mostly able to go along for the ride.

      I'm with you about the pacing. There often seem to be too many storylines to juggle, and I think about what could be possible if the show were an hour long instead. The time constraints are real. :/

      I'm super curious about Dylan's anger about participation trophies and receiving or being within earshot when someone else is given a pat-on-the-back-type compliment. I would love to see more character development across the board, but again with it being a 30-minute show. :/

      Thanks for letting me know your thoughts!

    2. I haven't seen episode 6 yet but for most episodes I agree the pacing is messy and too fast. I have never heard of the "disabled people only marry other disabled" as being a trope. Has it really been done that many times?

    3. Hi Margot -

      I said "trope" when what I meant was "widely-held belief," I guess? My bad! Thanks for reading!

    4. Ah! Thanks for clearing that up. No problem. As a writer I just like to keep tabs on what people think of as tropes,stereotypes etc. :) Great review!

  2. Ok finally found episode 6. My review
    Episode 6: The gym girl is kinda an ass at the beginning of the episode. She’s the stereotype of a blonde B*tch and the “I hate my disability” trope at first but luckily we see she is a nice girl. The PT scene was kinda like a date which is kinda clever. I see what you mean about inspiration porn there but I think it would be less inspiration porny if it was paced better. Like K said it does seemed forced and cliché. As to the drinking support group...let’s just say there is a reason my family stopped going to support groups early on LOL. The sexting is not something I approve of at all especially since the mom went along with it which is incredibly stupid and horrible parenting, but it is what teens go through these days. The line JJ said about girls seeing him like a teddy bear was interesting because I think some disabled guys do indeed have those types of insecurities. I was glad to see the girl accept the movie date. The sister getting mad was really out of left field writing wise. However screaming at a plane while very dumb is better than medicating a kid as soon as they experience an emotion because kids are so over medicated these days. If I had written the episode myself the changes I would make are have the screaming scene be more like what I experienced in acting class where one learns to express as a constructive form of releasing tension and have character development to show why the sister is pissed etc and have the mom not act so obsessed with popularity again because the whole sexting plot is telling people once again it is more important to be popular. .

  3. Have not seen the episodes but your post conveys it all. I believe whether you are disabled or normal, its the people whom you gel-up with give strength...

    1. Having a disability IS normal for so many. :) And absolutely!

  4. Absolutely we gather strength from one another. I believe sharing our everyday tasks has helped us more to understand things in a better way. Nice observation...

  5. Thanks for taking the time to discuss that, I feel strongly about this and so really like getting to know more on this kind of field. Do you mind updating your blog post with additional insight? It should be really useful for all of us.
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