Atypical: Season One, Episode Four

In Atypical's fourth episode, "A Nice, Neutral Smell," Sam's Odyssey to date continues. A girl, Paige (Jenna Boyd), shows interest in him! Why exactly is mysterious, since he treats her and other women terribly. She's a little quirky and probably has low self-esteem, so apparently that means they're perfect for each other? Of course, the writers continue to portray Sam's awfulness towards women and girls as some kind of natural extension of his autism. Last time I checked, misogyny isn't part of the diagnostic criteria for autism, although I suppose I should give them props for giving Sam a personality trait beyond an autism symptom checklist, however unintentionally.

‘Gonna break that record, superstar?’

Atypical: Season One, Episode Three

The overall theme of the third episode of Atypical, "Julia Says," is change. An often discussed "core symptom" of autism is what diagnosticians call "inflexibility." Ironically, the most inflexible person in this episode is Elsa. She has built her entire identity around Sam being dependent on her. As her family grows and changes around her, Elsa acts out. By the end of the episode she has assaulted a store clerk and is sleeping with Nick the bartender. Somehow, this is autism's fault or something. I still can't tell if she's supposed to be relatable or likeable.

‘Humans can't be perfect because we're not machines.’

Atypical: Season One, Episode Two

The second episode of Atypical is titled "A Human Female." After watching it, I feel like I need a shower. Is this supposed to be funny? Humanizing? Because after watching this episode, instead of merely socially inept, Sam seems dangerous. Has he never read a book or watched a movie with a human relationship in it? Has he never watched his parents? Why won't anybody in his life have a talk with him about what's appropriate and inappropriate in relationships or about appropriate boundaries in general? I am usually pretty skeptical of social skills training programs, but damn.

‘Enticing a human female into mating takes different skills. It requires research.’

As Sam narrates how roosters attract hens for mating by putting on a display, we get a flash of Sam's mother, Elsa, in the bar, seriously considering infidelity. We get more Discovery Channel narration from Sam as his sister waves … Continue Reading ››

Atypical: Season One, Episode One

When the trailer for Atypical, a new Netflix series, dropped, the online autistic community shared a collective groan. It's a story we've all seen before: Awkward autistic white guy tries to date girls. Hugh Dancy did it in Adam. Many autistic people were concerned about poor representation, since the actor playing the main character, Sam, is not autistic. Netflix assured people that the "social production team," whatever that is, included autistic people. The social production team doesn't seem important enough to merit a credit. Their full time consultant appears to be a researcher from UCLA -- Not exactly someone who would be able to provide input on a humanizing portrayal of an autistic person. And it shows. Sam reads like a DSM diagnostic checklist, not a person. After watching one episode, I feel confident saying that it is exactly as bad as you thought it was. Possibly worse. I … Continue Reading ››

This Week in Neurodiversity

Each Friday at NOSmag, I post some links relevant to neurodiversity news and culture criticism around the web. This is what I’ve been reading and that I think you should be reading too. Feel free to add links of your own in the comments and email suggestions for future link roundups to nos.editorial@gmail.com or Tweet us @NOSeditorial.