Proof that love is confusing and intense regardless, of who you are or what you’re going through.
First of all, kudos to you Netflix. Once again I simply click a show on the “Recently Added” list, and here I am writing a review about a show I had no intentions to even start, let alone binge in a day. Now quit reading my mind, Netflix. It’s creepy. And it’s starting to freak me out.
Let’s get the bad joke out of the way: Atypical is atypical of any show you’ll see. Still reading? Great. Honestly, the premise is unique and touchy. In my experience, autism isn’t something that is widely known or understood unless you have a family member or close friend that experiences it daily. I remember in high school one of our teacher’s sons went to the school and he was autistic. He wasn’t as high-functioning as the main character Sam, but he was a “regular” kid. That being said, I still didn’t and still don’t know all that much about autism and what it entails. This comedy series opens up that discussion and allows you to see how everyone in a family is impacted by it.
While nothing new for TV shows, I love the fact that you go through everyone’s journey and feel an emotional pull to every single character. Sam is a person with autism, something I admittedly will never understand, yet somehow I feel as if I’m going through his daily struggle each time he unleashes a brutally honest comment. Sam’s sister, Casey, is your average high school teen who has a brother with autism and has to protect him every step of the way. Going through the struggle of doing what’s best for you, and what’s best for your family life. I’m sure we’ve all been there too, albeit under different circumstances. Sam’s mother, Elsa, makes choices every step of the way regarding being the overprotective parent and still finding time to be a good wife, all the while trying to be herself. And Sam’s dad, Doug, wants to be a good father to his son with autism, keep his daughter in check, and prove he can stay committed to his family to his wife. Ever felt like you were being pulled in 3 to 4 directions at once? Yeah, so does every character in this show. It’s nearly impossible not to connect with one of the characters.
Another thing I love is the ability to put me in a weird emotional conflict each episode. When Sam insults someone unintentionally, I see it from both sides. Sure, Sam was brutally honest and really didn’t want to study with you because he gets better grades. Why study with someone when you’re getting an A and they are not. I get it. However, it doesn’t feel good to be insulted so casually, regardless of who is saying it. But, Sam is an 18-year-old with autism and he doesn’t know he’s being pretty offensive. You see the dilemma? That’s every episode, and not just with Sam. I find myself justifying, then criticizing every move the characters make. While that can be confusing and potentially annoying for some shows or movies, I feel as if I’m in a quick-action selection video game. And I don’t know that I ever made a concrete decision on any of them.
That’s what makes this show great in my estimation. It’s not long and monotonous in getting to the point. The point is there in every character interaction. I’m constantly trying to find what I would do as the producers weave through the storyline. At the same time, it’s a conversation, albeit for me internally, that most people are afraid to have about people on the spectrum. Even the people first language scene (which I tried to adhere to in this article, and I sincerely apologize if I missed a line or two) is quite thoughtful. This show makes you think through a story that is easy to digest.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10
Atypical shines the light on a topic that many people are uncomfortable or unwilling to talk about. Admittedly, I was naive to a lot of things about autism, and admittedly I still am. A Netflix show can’t replicate the real-world experience. However, I appreciate the humor and candor brought through the actors and actresses in the show to open the book for people like myself who didn’t know much.
+ Brings awareness to an issue not widely discussed
+ Downright humorous
+ Thought provoking
– Short season with a lot of unanswered questions
Brunner 1.0 is a Netflix aficionado because he has no friends. When he’s not watching shows, he’s playing Xbox One alone… because he has no friends remember.
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