Buried in a report today by the Hollywood Reporter’s Lesley Goldberg on JJ Abrams’ production company, Bad Robot, and its various projects in the works comes word the Apple TV+ original series Little Voice has been cancelled after a single season.
The move marks the first cancellation of a title on Apple’s streaming video service.
The drama, which stars Brittany O’Grady, chronicles the trials and tribulations of aspiring singer-songwriter Bess (played by O’Grady) as she tries to overcome her fear of performing publicly and realize her dream of being a performer. The journey to find herself runs on a parallel track to her relationship with her autistic brother, Louie, played by Kevin Valdez (who has autism) as he tries to find himself in his own right by trying to live more independently. Little Voice was notable insofar as it was one of two shows on Apple’s roster—the other being the post-apocalyptic drama See—that authentically portrayed disability. See is set to return for its sophomore season, with the season premiere scheduled to drop later this month on Friday, August 27.
The loss of Little Voice, while run-of-the-mill by Hollywood cancellation standards, is not an insignificant one when you consider its impact on furthering disability representation in film and television. As disability has historically been portrayed as something to be pitied and overcome—too often resulting in pandering, feel-good, ableist fodder which many in the disability community derisively refer to as “inspiration porn”—Apple deserved more acclaim by bucking this trend with not one but two shows. This effort not only was a shining example of true diversity and inclusion, where oftentimes disabled people are left out of the conversation, it was emblematic of Apple’s commitment to accommodating disabled people, which was heretofore only seen in the company’s consumer products. That Little Voice got the axe is a big blow to the cause and to the community, leaving See as the sole holder of the positive-disability-representation-in-Hollywood mantle—on Apple TV+ at least—for the foreseeable future. Whatever prompted Little Voice to be cancelled, it truly is unfortunate to lose it for the representational angle towards neurodivergent people.
I interviewed co-creator and executive producer Jessie Nelson and co-star Kevin Valdez last summer about the show and what it was like to work with members of the neurodiverse community. The story was well-received and remains one my favorites of this column’s relatively short history. Its emotional appeal (and its subject’s importance to Hollywood) is the main reason I’m reporting on the show’s demise.
The one and only season of Little Voice is available in the Apple TV app.