‘Speechless’ reviews: Minnie Driver could continue ABC’s family comedy winning streak

Speechless” premieres Wednesday night, September 21, as the latest ABC comedy to deal with a complex family dynamic. It stars Minnie Driver as Maya DiMeo, the mother of three children, one of whom (played by Micah Fowler) has cerebral palsy. Blending humor with the important subject matter of caring for a child with special needs has certainly appealed to critics: it has scored 79 on MetaCritic and remarkable 95% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes. Will it be an Emmy contender?

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In recent years “Modern Family” has been an Emmy juggernaut for the ABC network, winning a record-tying five Emmys for Best Comedy Series. And “Black-ish” earned its first nomination for Best Comedy Series in 2016. But other popular, acclaimed comedies on the network, like “The Middle” and “Fresh Off the Boat,” haven’t caught on with awards voters as consistently.

The good news for “Speechless” is that its star Driver already has a strong awards track record. She earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress in 1997 for “Good Will Hunting,” and more recently she has picked up a pair of Emmy nominations: Best Drama Actress (“The Riches,” 2007) and Best Movie/Mini Actress (“Return to Zero,” 2014). And “Speechless” is created by Scott Silveri, who won Best Comedy Series in 2002 as a producer of “Friends.”

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Check out some of the “Speechless” reviews below, and click here to join the discussion in our forums about this and many other fall TV premieres.

Maureen Ryan (Variety): “‘Speechless’ is a good example of how a willingness to explore challenging topics, when united with crisp commercial instincts and warmhearted compassion, can produce admirable results. If it sustains the quality of its terrific pilot, ‘Speechless’ is likely to emerge as the best new broadcast network comedy of the year.”

Mary McNamara (Los Angeles Times): “Created by Scott Silveri, whose brother has cerebral palsy, the pilot crackles with one-liner wit and hilarious monologues, many, though not all, delivered by Maya, who all but vibrates with her tangled mess of take-no-prisoner standards and eternal optimism.”

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Tim Goodman (Hollywood Reporter): “The best network shows are almost always comedies these days — and while there are plenty of not very good shows of both dramatic and comedic ilk this fall, one that stands out in how it proves a broadcast network is sometimes the best place for warm-hearted laughs is ABC’s very strong Speechless, about a boy with cerebral palsy, his aggressively protective mother and the rest of the family, who try not to get lost in the lights of those two strong forces.”

Jeff Jensen (Entertainment Weekly): “Driver’s uncorked mom is a boss, funny and touching … The briskly paced humor is delightfully irreverent, taking aim at PC posturing and entitlements of all kinds. I love that it gives voice to Maya’s other kids or that it isn’t afraid to portray J.J. first and foremost as a teenager and everything beautiful and irritating that it entails. A worthy addition to ABC’s diversity-minded sitcoms.”

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