You may not see Christine Gernon’s face in front of the camera on ABC’s “Speechless,” but her work behind the scenes cannot go unnoticed as executive producer of the breakout show. Success is not uncommon, though. She’s been a part of hit shows like Black-ish, The Goldbergs, Fresh Off the Boat and so many more. Her interview, as well her work, will – hopefully – leave you speechless.
How did you get involved with “Speechless”?
I had done all of Jake Kasden and Melvin Mar’s shows (executive producers) and they sent me the script, which I loved. I then had an interview with Scott Silveri (creator/showrunner) and he hired me.
What was your favorite episode to direct this season?
Probably the Oscars episode. When all the kids with disabilities ended up having a fight, it’s the sort of thing only “Speechless” can do and was huge fun to shoot
It also had guest start Michaela Watkins who I loved working with (and had worked with her before on “Trophy Wife”).
Were there any episodes/moments you were hesitant in airing?
What is it like working with this particular cast and crew?
Just brilliant. Scott Silveri is so bloody talented and so great to work with. All the crew loves the show and really enjoys working on it. Plus it’s the first show I’ve done here where I got to have a say in casting/hiring, so I knew a lot of the crew we hired. We also have a great line producer I’d worked with before (on “New Girl and “The Grinder”) who has a great office team. This all makes it really fun to come to work.
What is your response to all the positive feedback and awareness this show has brought to the network landscape?
I love it. I love working on this show, and from the get go we hoped that it would go down well with the disabled community. Obviously you can’t please everyone – and with it being a comedy, you immediately lose half the audience who won’t find it funny (humor being so subjective) – so to have so much positive feedback from them has been great. And then there are all the people who didn’t think they’d like it/wouldn’t be for them because they didn’t know anything about disabilities who love it just because it’s funny. And if you can educate people a little along the way too, that’s great.
You’ve directed and worked on a lot of the modern day family sitcoms (Black-ish, The Goldbergs, Fresh Off the Boat). How is “Speechless” really different than those other projects?
It’s not. It’s another of the (excellent) family comedies that ABC does so well. It has issues it covers, but then so do all the others. But they are never ‘issue’ shows; they are all first and foremost comedies.
How important is it that so many different types of families are being shown on “Speechless” and on network TV in general?
I think it’s really important. There are a lot of different people out there who want to watch things that specifically relate to them. If we can show a disabled kid as just being a kid, then I think that’s a good thing.
What is the goal going into season two? Are there any new faces we’re going to see? Are there any particular issues you want to tackle? Etc.
Build on the success of the first series. I can tell you no more than that!
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the network landscape? What is the biggest thing that still needs to change?
I don’t know if I’ve been here long enough to comment. I’m British.
Even if a viewer only has seen/watches one episode of “Speechless,” what do you hope they takeaway from those 30 minutes of television?
Wow, that was funny! And maybe that people with disabilities aren’t that different.