Autism has been a widely identified mental condition for decades now, yet those diagnosed with the disorder are still misunderstood. Netflix made the decision to tackle this heavy issue with its release of the original series “Atypical” on Aug. 11, 2017.
This down-to-earth series manages to put a comical twist on a diagnosis that many people equate to a life of misery. “Atypical” features an 18-year-old boy on the autism spectrum, Sam Gardner, as he begins his eye-opening journey to overcome his condition and find true love.
Throughout season one, we are introduced to the many quirks of a witty and misunderstood Sam Gardner as he works to integrate his not-so-typical mannerisms into the life of a typical teenage boy.
With the support of his therapist, his strong-willed older sister, his nurturing mother and his protective father, Sam learns several lessons that eventually lead him on his mission to find a girlfriend; this mission becomes the plot for the duration of season one.
Realizing that finding a partner would require more than just the help of his reptilian sidekick, Edison the turtle, Sam sets out on a path to become a more independent, desirable mate.
This seemingly insurmountable path to independence leaves Sam’s mother, Elsa, feeling as if she’s been stripped of what she believes to be her only purpose in life: to look after Sam. These lost feelings lead Elsa into the arms of an attractive bartender.
The release of season two of Atypical on Sept. 4, of 2018, managed to arouse as much interest and positive response as the first season as we delve back into the enigma that is the mind of Sam Gardner.
In season two of the series, Netflix expands the horizon of the series to cover how Sam’s loved ones are affected by his condition. We are shown the confliction Sam’s sister, Casey, faces while battling whether to resent Sam for taking up so much of their parents’ time and attention, or to protect him from a world ignorant to his trials and tribulations. We also delve further into the wedge that was driven into the bond of Sam’s family by his mother’s infidelity in season one.
While there was some controversy surrounding whether “Atypical” accurately represented life on the autism spectrum, the feedback was more positive than negative.
The series provides autistic people more representation within society and brings awareness to a condition that is often misunderstood. Sam’s inappropriate outbursts and internal conflicts unveil to the public the parts of autism we otherwise wouldn’t see.
All in all, this “coming of age” Netflix original has good intentions in its attempt to shed light on a sensitive issue with warmth and light-hearted humor. Those who begin the series will immediately form a bond with Sam’s charming naivety and begin rooting for him every episode of the season.
Written by Ashlyn Simons, Staff Writer. Photo courtesy of Netflix.