Yes, yes, I know it seems that I’m obsessed with Netflix. I just can’t help myself! They have all these great series available…
“Atypical” is a story of an 18 year old Sam (Keir Gilchrist) who’s a teenager with autism (not an autistic teenager, as you’ll learn). The time comes for both him and his highly athletic sister, Casey to enter the world of dating. Their parents aren’t particularly happy about their children growing up, as it’s usually the case. The situation is particularly difficult for the stay-at-home mom, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who all of a sudden after years of taking excessive care of her son has to redefine herself.
The show is a nice mixture of comedy and drama. The characters are relatable and we do feel for most of them. I’m not a specialist in autism but I think the series does a good job at explaining the disorder. It’s also interesting to see how a family deals with such a difficult situation. The parents aren’t overly idealised. They do struggle with the upbringing of a child with autism and they occasionally forget that they have two kids and not one. The story is very convincing but there’s something off with the mother character. That she’s overprotective is understandable but I was less empathic towards her crazy control issues (constantly asking her daughter to keep her door open?) and narcissism. I really wanted to throw something at the TV numerous times because of her but my husband told me not to and I’m an obedient wife.
Fortunately, the focus of the series is on Sam. He’s in a normal school and is seemingly copin. That doesn’t mean that other teenagers don’t make fun of him. It is horrible to laugh at someone just because the way they are but it’s also what people in high school do. The stuff he does is sometimes funny by “normal” standards and people will laugh. We allegedly live in the world of diversity and acceptance but it’s just appearances. Whenever something is different from our immediate comfort zone we ask other the question “Why?”. “Atypical” makes us see that for Sam the why is his disorder that neither him nor his family completely understands. He certainly should have a shot at things every human being wants such as a relationship, a job or friends. At the same time the world won’t change for someone who’s atypical. Like every one of us he’ll have to find his way to navigate his life in the imperfect world.
I’m looking forward to the season two of the series! I really would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a bit of lighter entertainment. The series is very short as it consists only of 8 half an hour long episodes. Giving it a try isn’t much of a commitment and it’s really worth your time!