New Netflix series – Atypical

New Netflix series - Atypical

Kaylee Bowman , Reporter

Netflix released a new heartfelt comedy – “Atypical.” The shows central character is Sam Gardner, an 18-year-old male, who is on the Autism spectrum. His character is played by none other than Keir Gilchrist, who has starred in many movies focused around mental health and sexual-romantic relationships such as “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.” Although Gilchrist plays his role well, it started controversy because he, himself, is not autistic.   

Mickey Rowe, an autistic actor, wrote, “It seems to play into stereotypes that I’ve experienced firsthand that could have easily avoided’. He highlights some examples, such as a scene where Sam repeatedly says ‘twat’ or tells his therapist he can see her purple bra.
‘As he does each of these things, it feels like the audience is supposed to laugh at how weird and different Sam is. This is the crux of Atypical’s comedy, but there’s nothing that funny about turning someone’s disability into a punchline.”

In many shows, characters are made to seem as if they’re on the autism spectrum for comic relief. This show, although it was originally made to connect families living with a child diagnosed with autism, seemed almost to push them into a corner away from the rest of society. Yes, it was most likely unintentional, but real life families that deal with such problems were outraged. They claimed it stereotyped autistic problems and glorified them.

Atypical attempts to uncover the everyday struggles for families with autistic children. It tries to expose the life of each family member in a raw fashion. Sam seeks love which throws the whole family off, individually, in almost a domino effect. This is something the show does right…well at least the portion where Sam gains confidence and independence.

The show may be portrayed as stereotypical in some of its aspects, but it is a huge leap for the autism community. It helps people understand and appreciate people with autism a bit more than they had before. It is impossible to please everyone and in the end, the writers of this show genuinely tried to highlight the good and the bad of being autistic without intentionally offending anyone.

“What I would say is that I think in general it’s hard to please everyone when you’re trying to represent one person. You’re not going to. It’s essentially impossible to portray everyone on the spectrum. There’s a famous quote, if you’ve met one child with autism, you’ve met one child with autism. So it’s tough. And it’s way harder to depict a child that has no language or has severe anxiety without being over-exaggerated or extreme,” said Dr. Shafali Jeste.