The A Word is a family drama centered around Joe Hughes (Max Vento), a five-year-old child with autism. The show opens with Joe’s uncle, Eddie Scott (Greg McHugh)—who’s coming home with his adulterous wife Dr. Nicola Daniels (Vinette Robinson) to live with his brother—trying to navigate a car with a small trailer up a driveway. The visual is a great, if unintended, metaphor for the episode as a whole. Writer Peter Bowker seems to be trying to combine a social realism drama with an absurdist farce. Director Peter Cattaneo’s lingering shots and documentary feel add to the weirdness of it all.
It’s an utter shame because the best parts of the show depict the family dealing with coming to terms with Joe’s condition. The other melodramatic stories at best distract and at worst undermine the believability of the family’s central crisis.