Netflix recently announced a new comedy called Atypical, the story of a high school student named Sam, who is on the autism spectrum, and his journey to find love and independence. This eight-episode first season of the original series will premier on August 11th.
The coming-of-age sitcom Atypical is created by Robia Rashid, who brought us How I Met Your Mother, and features Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist and Michael Rapaport as the leads.
We’ve seen a successful comedies about characters on the spectrum before, such as Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory or Abed Nadir on Community. ABC is set to release a new show, The Good Doctor, in the fall, which feature a young doctor on the spectrum. This network also recently released a comedy called Speechless about a family with a special needs member, a teen with cerebral palsy.
There have been many portrayals of characters with autism before, some more accurate than others. I lovingly recall Brick Heck from The Middle; although he was never diagnosed with anything specific, he attended an ASD-style social skills group. Or “Crazy Eyes” from Orange is the New Black. I know Sonya Cross from FX’s The Bridge was a favorite as well. It’s exciting to see more and more diverse representations of characters with ASD on television.
Characters like Sam in Atypical make us question – what does it even really mean to be normal?
No one is normal. Atypical creator Robia Rashid, says Sam is “This is a guy who’s just like all of us”. Brigette Lundy-Paine, who plays Sam’s sister Casey, adds, ““Atypical goes deep into the magical world of the mind of someone with autism… So much of the show is told from inside Sam’s head, so it’s this treasure trove of experiences”.
By Emma Cooley