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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.
I’m sure I’ll be thinking similarly when ABC premiers its new show, “The Good Doctor.” The last time I saw autism talked about on television was with NBC’s “Parenthood,” where we saw Max Braverman grow up from his initial diagnosis of Asperger syndrome at age 7 up until his high school years.
Since “Parenthood” ended after a critically appraised run, it was about time for a refreshing take from an autistic perspective, and there is where “Atypical” swoops in.
Casey’s boyfriend has to stand up for her and shout at the dinner table for her parents to even acknowledge that Casey is being recruited by a top private school to run track because it paled in comparison to Sam making a pro-con list to determine whether or not he liked Paige and Paige sharing with everybody that she found Sam’s list.
Her experiences are valid, complicated, and give “Atypical” a heart.
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.
Here are the the things I absolutely loved about “Atypical:” Sam is successfully employed at a computer electronics store.
Oftentimes, autistic people are discriminated against in the workplace or do not have the opportunity to work any job.
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.
This detail of Sam’s character eases my fears about integrating autistic adults into the community.