Atypical or Completely Normal?

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 wellIt’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”.

Read more about it here and watch the trailer.


By Emma Cooley

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3 Responses to Atypical or Completely Normal?

  1. mediaphiles says:

    Hi Emma! I really enjoyed your blog post. I am a huge Michael Rapaport fan and didn’t know he was going to be apart of a Netflix series. As you pointed out, I think that tackling the topic of autism has become more popular on television series recently, like ABC’s new show The Good Doctor. This will definitely be an interesting show to watch. I loved your ideas around the question of normalcy. It’s interesting to look into the lives of autistic people through television and film, and can teach many people who are unfamiliar with the subject a bit more about it.

    Kat Huber

  2. mediaphiles says:

    Emma, thank you for writing about this show! I was not aware that Netflix was going to be adding a series about a young man with ASD. I am particularly interested in how that show will present his disability. From the looks of the trailer, this could be a very positive representation of ASD and the reality of how someone on the spectrum may live their life. Representation in sitcom can have a huge impact on what the general public accepts as “normal” and it looks like the show will be exploring ASD in a progressive, positive way. Thank you for the thoughtful post. I will definitely be checking this out!

    Meghan B.

  3. marymdalton says:

    Very curious about this post, which is excellent except that I’d like some photo attribution (are the images you found labeled for non-commercial use?).

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