Show Review – Atypical

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I watched this new show on Netflix and have been wanting to write about it, as it definitely affected me as a mom of a child on the autism spectrum.

I cannot “recommend” the show per se. First, it’s Netflix, so there’s tons of language and references to… let’s just say, Netflix wouldn’t get great “family friendly” ratings on Plugged In.

I also read a few reviews and have to say that I do agree that the main character, Sam, who has autism, is made to be the target of the audience’s laughter, which is not helpful in understanding how he is feeling but perpetuating stereotypes.

Additionally, I was honestly disappointed when I found out that only one character on the entire show, and not Sam, the main character, has autism. This was a strong criticism in the reviews.

Nevertheless, I was drawn into the story.

Here’s why:

  1. Sam – Pretty much every episode showed something that resonated with me as a mom and I wound up laughing with, cheering for, or crying about something that was portrayed about Sam’s situation, that centered around his autism.
  2. Doug (the dad) – I loved how the father/son relationship grew over the course of the episodes. It was revealed that he didn’t always feel a connection with Sam, which is something that I see in our own family. They start connecting during Sam’s senior year (over Sam’s desire to date), in a poignant way.
  3. Casey (the sister) – If you do watch, there will be no way you will not love this character, both for how she looks out for her big brother and for how she’s a little lost in the family. This definitely reminded me of Cynthia Lord’s Rules.
  4. Paige (the “girlfriend”) – The critics felt that she was patronizing to Sam in many ways. I saw her (maybe naively) having some social awkwardness herself, and therefore adorable as she tried to navigate being in a relationship with Sam.

Things that really turned me off:

  1. The mom – I know that parents can lose their identity, so to speak, in being a caregiver to a special needs child. But I could not condone or even understand her choices throughout the episodes.
  2. Inconsistencies and generalities with many, many aspects of knowing someone with ASD.

This is not a show that I can watch with the kids, despite how much I wanted to ask Liam what he thought about less “Netflixy” scenes. I also tried to watch with my husband. He laughed a few times, but I will not ask him to watch again unless he brings it up. I started to think about the stereotypes and if he felt put off by some of what he saw in the first episode.

Like I said, I would never recommend you to watch this show without being forewarned that there are many issues with its production.

But if you did watch, what did you think?

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