I consider this a double-edged sword since Sam is not an advocate for himself, except when he stands up to Elsa when he says he is capable of picking out his own clothes and going to the mall without his noise-canceling headphones even though the lights, sounds, and the waterfall at the mall are enough to make him overwhelmed and have a meltdown.Sam is willing to better himself, even if it’s only with the goal of finding a girlfriend of getting to lose his virginity, or to please his therapist (who he has a crush on).This detail of Sam’s character eases my fears about integrating autistic adults into the community.
I was really looking forward to all of Casey’s scenes, and again, admired her for standing up for Sam when she has enough to grapple with on her own besides feeling protective of her older brother.Here are the things I absolutely disliked about “Atypical:” Other than giving into television stereotypes of Sam initially wanting an intimate relationship with his therapist, coming of age stories, Elsa’s steamy affair with the bartender, and good-girl athlete Casey falling for a bad boy, I had genuine concerns about the show and its portrayal of autism. Sam simply misses every social cue, finds every excuse possible to talk about penguins and Antarctica, and appears inherently selfish and inconsiderate. He knows he’s weird, and he doesn’t really care, except when it comes to his quest to have a girlfriend and have sex.So many parents are in denial that something is different about their children, and it was touching to see Doug come around and accept that autism is a large part of who Sam is. Casey is a complex character with varying emotions and a lot of teenage angst.She is frustrated by feeling empty or invisible in comparison to Sam.Autistic actors such as Mickey Rowe, who plays an autistic character on Broadway, commented on the controversy when he reviewed the first episode.
Further, no autistic people were consulted for the show. Naturally, I binge-watched “Atypical.” I couldn’t wait to see how mainstream television was going to talk about autism.
I was particularly disturbed by Sam’s relationship with Paige.
There was a scene where he locked her in a closet because he was upset that she was touching all of the stuff in his room and ultimately touched his pet turtle.
There has been a lot of buzz lately about Netflix’s new show “Atypical,” which revolves around how one fictional family experiences autism.
Being “atypical” myself, I was waiting patiently to watch and review “Atypical.” Before the show even aired, there was controversy in the autism community about how Keir Gilchrist, the actor who plays an autistic high school senior named Sam, is not autistic himself.
“Atypical” focuses on Sam Gardner, an autistic high school senior who is extremely passionate about penguins and really wants a relationship with a girl; and the rest the Gardner family: his autism warrior mom Elsa, ashamed paramedic father Doug, and his track star younger sister Casey.