Speechless (S01E19) “C-H–CHEATER”

Review: Last night Speechless delivered its best and most realistic episode yet. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Speechless is the best new comedy of this season, funny and relatable for everybody, if you’re in a special needs family or not.

This week it all starts when Maya goes in for a parent-teacher conference about JJ. His teacher tells Maya that JJ has been cheating on his tests. Of course Maya stands up for her kid, but when she finds out that he is actually cheating by using Kenneth (who apparently knows more than he thinks he does), she gets angry. JJ is the one that wanted to be in a mainstream school, but now that he is in one, he’s fine with the teachers cutting him slack and giving him breaks. Maya motivates JJ to apply himself, take a test on his own and earn a good grade so he can later go on to get a great job and have a great life.

JJ almost caves under the pressure of doing a test on his own, but eventually his hard work pays of when he gets his test back: an 81. This is a great result and JJ is happy that he is smart enough to do all of this himself, but he also knows that this is only the beginning.

Meanwhile, Ray gets caught in a pyramid scheme during career day because all he cares about is money. He calls out Jimmy for not having any drive to get a better paying job instead of his crappy job at the airport, but Jimmy tells Ray to not only focus on the money because there are more important things in life. He tells him that he has drive, but when he and Maya had JJ, he needed a job with insurance and more stability than a future in architecture could ever give him.

Ray understands, but explains that he wants to make a lot of money because he is worried about JJ and what will happen when Jimmy and Maya are gone. Apparently Ray isn’t the only one who thinks about this because when Ray and Jimmy get home to talk about this, Dylan expresses the same concerns: What is the plan? What do they need to do when the parents are not around anymore? Jimmy, Maya, Ray and Dylan discuss what JJ’s future could look like and Maya mentions that JJ will probably never be able to live on his own, not noticing that JJ, who was feeling confident and independent after his great test result, is in the room listening to what they’re saying.

This episode hit close to home for me as a special needs sibling of an almost 17 year old mentally disabled brother. First of all, like the DiMeos, this isn’t something we talk about in our family very often and when we do, it’s never a long conversation. Maybe this is just something we don’t want to think about too much, but it is something that will always be on our minds.

After watching this episode I asked my 9 year old brother about this and even he has been thinking about the future of his big brother. It’s interesting that apparently even at that age he feels responsible for what might happen to our brother in the future.

Ray’s talk with Jimmy and later the conversation about it at home is something all special needs families deal with and the way it was portrayed in this episode was just fantastic. Besides the more heavy part, the comedic side of this episode was great too. Dylan’s small storyline was silly, but funny and I really love how strong her character is. Jimmy is also just really great, and I hope we get to see him do something with architecture again in the future. I’m very interested to see what happens in the next episode after Kenneth and JJ talk and how the rest of the family will react when they realize that JJ heard what they all said.

All in all this was a great episode of Speechless and it showed once again how funny and relatable this show can be!

The next episode of Speechless airs on April 26th at 8:30/7:30c on ABC.