‘Atypical’ Gives Insight to Life on Spectrum

Sydney Hershberger, Staff Writer

As a person on the autism spectrum, taking a look at “Atypical”, a show that has been endlessly praised for having excellent realistic representation for autistic people, was difficult to do with an unbiased eye. I didn’t know what to expect. However, I went in with an open mind, and was greatly rewarded.

The show certainly lives up to its name. It’s different than most movies or TV shows in that it feels real. The show is told from the main character, Sam’s, perspective. Whenever something happens to him and he reacts differently than expected, he explains what about that situation made him confused or uncomfortable, or why he did what he did.

This sort of inner monologue really helps you understand him as a character, and also serves as a teaching moment for anyone watching who maybe didn’t know so much about autism.

The show also focuses on Sam’s family: his older sister, his mom and his dad.

The portrayal of Sam’s family is most certainly not sugar coated. The parents especially seem excruciatingly real to me. The mother is doting and almost helicopterish. She sees Sam as someone she must protect, and even sets aside having a private life of her own to make sure he is safe.

Sam’s father feels disconnected from his son, not being able to bond over the things that he feels fathers and sons should be able to bond over like girls and sports.

The show does a great job helping you understand all sides of the family, which I think is important.

Especially with the mother, in many TV depicts the mother character is usually seen as a perfect angel who can do nothing wrong and knows exactly what to say. This in unrealistic and is honestly unfair to real mothers.

Of course it’s easy to demonize the mother character and say that she needs to stop acting a certain way, but the people who say this most likely haven’t been through motherhood.

Overall, I very much liked the show. It shed some light on the things that autistic people have to deal with every day. Craving intimacy but not knowing how to go about it, wanting to have friends, but not knowing exactly how people become friends in the first place or wanting to explain yourself but not being able to because you just can’t find the words.

These are things that a lot of people on the spectrum I think can relate to and it’s a heavy theme in the show.

I’m used to shows that deal with autism portraying a sort of surface level look at what autism is and how it affects the people that have it. With these sorts of TV shows it feels almost like the writers looked up a list of symptoms and gave the character all of them.

I would recommend this show for anyone on the autism spectrum who feels alone, as the representation is beautifully done and really makes you feel heard, and also for anyone who wants to learn more about autism while also being entertained by the shows wit and charm.