I’m often skeptical when I hear about tv and film projects that include the characterization of an individual with special needs. Certainly, it’s more prevalent these days, to include a character who’s either a little “off” or even clearly identified as being on the autism spectrum. But when hearing about an entire series based with the main character being atypical (or neuro-diverse, as I like to call it), I had to hold my breath.
“Please let this work!” I thought, as I logged into Netflix yesterday. This is so huge for us, the autism community, to have a story line showcased on such a large mainstream platform.
So I started watching, episode after episode (there are 8 episodes total). And, I exhaled : it was so GOOD! So so good! My heart flipped and flopped watching the family dynamic play out so similarly to my own. I related so much to Mama Gardner (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) and the fears and worries she has about her son. Oh, how beautiful it was to watch. The characters were believable, the issues and challenges the show brought up were so authentic and relevant. I cannot wait for more. Thank you, Robia Rashad, for creating and sharing such an important story line with us. Bravo, Netflix, for taking on this project.
Streaming now, only on Netflix, Atypical is a coming of age story that follows Sam (played by Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the spectrum as he searches for love and independence. While Sam is on his funny yet emotional journey of self-discovery, the rest of his family must grapple with change in their own lives as they all struggle with the central theme : what does it really mean to be normal?