Speechless (S01E04) “I-N-S-Inspirations”

Review: I don’t do weekly reviews for Speechless, but with a storyline this relatable, I just had to write something. First of all, in the first 4 weeks, I think Speechless established itself as a well-balanced comedy, with a lot of heart and I’ve really enjoyed the episodes so far.
This episode focuses on two storylines. When JJ and Kenneth go out for a day where JJ is in charge, the four other DiMeos try to find a fun way to fill their day.
JJ and Kenneth are having a great day, especially when they can cut lines because “we’re inspirations”. However, all the special treatment goes to Kenneth’s head, and he pushes it too far, to all annoyance of JJ. To make things worse, Kenneth accidentally forgets JJ’s backpack with his communication board in the parking lot of Dodgers stadium. JJ gets mad at Kenneth, first without and then with communication board, but eventually Kenneth makes up to him by letting JJ ride the van. I love the relationship between the two. Cedric Yarbrough and Micah Fowler have a great chemistry on screen, which of course is necessary when you have about every scene together. I think their relationship is the strongest part of the whole show.
The rest of the family is at home, figuring out what they can do together, now that JJ isn’t with them. Dylan and Ray come up with paintball, and while Jimmy is on board, Maya isn’t. She tries to prevent them from doing something fun because she would feel guilty that it would be without JJ. Dylan convinces her to have fun for once, so they are off to play paintball. They’re all working as a team, now that Dylan and Ray find out they can be nice to each other, and when all four of them end up without being hit, Dylan shouts: “This is the best day ever!”, immediately regretting saying that because she realizes JJ isn’t with them.
And that’s when this episode hit me. As someone living with a special needs brother, it felt very real that the DiMeos were feeling guilty. My brother isn’t always home, he’s not there when we take our big summer trip and he misses birthdays and other momentous occasions. This was the first time that the DiMeos did something fun without JJ, for our family this has been going on for about ten years now. And it gets easier when time passes, you start to feel less guilty about it (just saying that, kind of makes me feel guilty again, how weird is that) and you just want to have fun when you can (which doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun when he is there).
While this wasn’t explored in the episode there is another part that is making it even worse sometimes: people asking where my brother is. Usually they just ask out of interest, they don’t want to make you feel guilty, they’re just wondering. But when I answer those questions (for example about our summer vacation) I often overcompensate by telling them the things that we do WITH him, to make myself feel less guilty. People often understand, but it’s still hard not to feel bad about it.
It’s always great when my brother is home, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy your time without him. And even though he might have fun himself or doesn’t even know what you are doing, there will always be this guilt somewhere in the back of your mind. I think the show totally nailed that feeling and that’s why this episode was another example of how great this show is.