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ABC silences Speechless, as the annual TV cancellation bloodbath begins

Photo: Richard Cartwright (ABC)

It’s that time of year yet again, folks: Bloodbath Day, a.k.a. the annual holiday that sees the major TV networks take a grisly axe to all your favorite mid-tier shows, in advance of rolling out their new fall schedule of future victims at their advertiser upfronts. As usual, ABC is the first one up to this particular bloody at-bat, kicking off the festivities by swinging a rusty baseball bat at the head of critical darling half-hour comedy Speechless.

Per Deadline, the Minnie Driver-starring series—in which the Oscar nominee played a fiercely protective mom who advocates tirelessly on behalf of her kids, including her eldest, J.J. (Micah Fowler), who has cerebral palsy—has been ended after three well-liked (if not especially well-viewed) seasons on the air. The series co-starred reliable comic presences as John Ross Bowie and Cedric Yarbrough, but there’s only so much that “reliable comic presences” can do when your network moves you to a Friday night time slot in your last year, cutting the series’ third-season viewership in half from earlier numbers.

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Which is a shame, since Speechless was one of those rare network sitcoms capable of juggling its sentiment and its sense of humor in roughly equal measure, eschewing the tropes of afternoon specials about living with disabilities in favor of a practical, very funny look at what life is like for the people living with them, as well as the family surrounding them.

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