Atypical, Not Your Typical Show

High School Drama And Autism Mix To Give Atypical A Unique Story

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Kayla Canto, Contributing writer

“Atypical” is a comedy series with a touch of drama that aired on Netflix in August of 2017. The show follows Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), a senior in high school who is on the higher functioning side of the autism spectrum.

The writers of the show do a great job of portraying a teenage boy with autism going through dramas of everyday high school. It shows the more realistic side of the struggles and stresses that are not only put on Sam himself, but also on his family and how it affects everyone around him.

Sam’s mother, Elsa Gardner (Jennifer Leigh), has devoted her life to Sam and his autism and took the time to learn all about his disability by going to support groups and a ton of charity walks over the years. As Sam grows older and becomes less dependent on his mother, she feels that she is no longer needed and unappreciated, leading to drama of her own. 

The first and only season of the series so far is mainly focused on Sam’s attempt to find a girlfriend after his therapist Dr. Julia Saski (Amy Okuda) suggests that he starts putting himself out there more. Sam takes her advice but what Julia doesn’t know is that he is slowly falling in love with her and he is looking for a “practice girlfriend” before he asks her out.

Sam’s younger sister Casey Gardner (Brigette Lundy-Paine), an athletic and sarcastic yet incredibly loving plays an important role is Sam’s life, especially at school. When she finds out Sam is looking for a girlfriend she’s not the biggest fan of it because she doesn’t think Sam is ready for the potential heartbreak that can come with relationships.

Due to Sam’s autism, he takes just about everything in a literal manner. This includes things like making lists, hanging out with new people, and conversations about taking the next few steps. Other times, Sam reacts due to his over-sensory issues because of his environment with loud noises or flashing lights.

As time goes on and Sam starts to talk to other people, he doesn’t quite understand why relationships have certain rules or conditions. When it comes to a girl wearing a guy’s comfy sweatshirt, he looks at it more as stealing than cute. Another aspect is the amount of time spent with the significant other. He doesn’t understand how people don’t get sick of each other after hours on end.

Throughout the show, the viewer learns a great deal about the family’s past and sees where they’re headed in the not-so distant future. Whether it be a love interest for either of the two Gardner’s kids or seeing the history of the Gardner parents and how they grew from those events, “Atypical” is a non-stop show with strong character development.

Overall “Atypical” is a great show that really gives you a look into someone’s life who has to deal with the daily struggles of autism but it always shows you how to look on the positives in a bad situation.