The A Word: Autism’s the Word, But Family’s the Thing in Superb SundanceTV Drama

The A Word SundanceTV cast Rory Mulvey/Sundanc
The A Word — Lee Ingleby as Paul Hughes, Max Vento as Joe Hughes, Morven Christie as Alison Hughes, Molly Wright as Rebecca Hughes

The A Word airs Wednesdays beginning July 13 at 10/9CT on SundanceTV.

Joe Hughes’ family is struggling.

The music-obsessed little boy is likely on the autism spectrum. His Aunt Nicola, training to be a doctor, is sure of that and wants to help, but the clan is too bruised by her past affair to listen. Joe’s doting mum and dad, Alison and Paul, desperately hope that — despite his differences and increasing alienation by his peers — their son will outgrow the worst of his quirks. His half-sister Rebecca adores her brother but puzzles quietly over how to gain her parents’ notice as they keep up a dance of protective denial around the boy.

And Joe’s no-nonsense granddad Maurice is reeling from his wife’s death — and the recent revelation that his voice teacher would very much welcome a booty call.

Even so, SundanceTV’s engaging limited series The A Word, originally produced for BBC One, is very possibly the most delightful thing you’ll see all summer, as the Brit family weathers wholly relatable ups and downs, with Joe’s future — and a glorious soundtrack filled with English rock and punk bands — as the fulcrum.

Adding an aching moodiness to the proceedings is the series’ rustic, watercolor setting in England’s Lake District.

“The A Word is exactly the kind of intimate, unique and emotionally impactful we want to showcase on SundanceTV” said Joel Stillerman, president of original programming and development for AMC and SundanceTV. “It’s hopeful, honest and ultimately about the power of family and the range of issues that families can face together, from autism to aging to adultery.”

The series, which made its critically-acclaimed debut in the UK in March, is based on the Israeli drama Yellow Peppers, created and written by Keren Margalit who executive produces The A Word.

Don’t be late for each episode’s opening moments, as little Joe (vocally gifted 6-year-old Max Vento — the squeezable star of an entirely winning cast) takes an unsanctioned stroll down the road, turquoise headphones firmly in place, singing at the top of his lungs and clutching a toy related to the episode before — each time headed off at the pass by workers from the family brewery who deliver him back home.

The A Word airs Wednesdays beginning July 13 at 10/9CT on SundanceTV

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Lori just hasn't been the same since "thirtysomething" and "Northern Exposure" went off the air.