Autism is a lifelong disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. I know individuals that have autism and I also have family members that struggle with the condition. It’s difficult to live with but with the right people and help, you can live happily with autism. I have friends that have autism and they just want to be normal like everybody else, they’re no different to me or you reading this.
Atypical is about Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old student and tech-store customer assistant that has been born with autism. The comedy-drama series follows him through his adventures into love. Sam is looking for someone to love, however, his family, especially his mum, Elsa Gardner (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is scared that he will get hurt in the process. She is struggling to let go of her ever-growing son, but she has to let him go at some point, whether he has autism or not.
Non-stop laughter, a loveable character and someone you want to be friends with. Keil Gilchrist manages to make you fall in love with him and his representation of someone with autism is on-point. Humour was key throughout and each punchline will make you laugh, guaranteed. You find yourself cringing at times and saying “don’t say that” to yourself but that’s what living with autism is like. The way the series was orchestrated made you feel you were in the head of Sam. You can’t read people’s emotions or tell how they are feeling and Robia Rashid, the writer of the series puts it across so well to audiences.
Not only was the series about Sam, it was about how the rest of the family coped with him and his autism. The on-screen chemistry and relationship between Sam and Casey Gardner (Bridgette Lundy-Paine) is something we can all relate to. Brother and sister, bound to be arguments but their love for each other shows. Doug (Michael Rapaport), Sam’s father, plays an important part in being someone who majorly struggles with the situation. You have a baby boy who you think you’re going to play football with and do cool things together but when your son has a different brain to everyone else, it’s not that simple. Finally, Sam’s mother, Elsa has her life revolved around Sam, looking after him and making sure he is okay, but that leads to her not having a life of her own. Each character throughout has their own interesting story, linking all of them to Sam.
Penguins. Easily the smartest part of the series. People with autism are likely to relate to something they don’t understand to something they are passionate about. Love is something Sam has no understanding of but for him to learn, he takes it upon himself to use his information and research on Antarctica and penguins to make it easier for him. This is what made the comedy more ingenious throughout. The writers and directors made a substantial effort to put in the research to discover what people with autism are like. I know first hand from my experience of being around family members and friends with autism that this is near enough exactly how they respond. I laughed a lot because I could relate.
Netflix has another top series here. Endless amounts of laughter and cringe moments to hide behind the pillows from but that’s what is great about it. It’s making you learn, to a certain extent what autism about and having these reactions will make it easier for you to understand these individuals better. We are all human at the end of the day, we all have our differences and those differences should be accepted. It’s nice to see that a light has finally been shined upon autism.