Netflix released Season Two of Atypical in September 2018, and soon there will be Season Three. I really hope this TV series will continue for many more seasons. I have been following it since the first season and I believe that there are social dimensions that should not be absorbed by the comical element of the show. They must not be ignored.
The condition of Sam (portrayed by Keir Gilchrist), the teenager with autism, causes laughter and is suitable for the dramedy that describes Atypical’s genre, but this laughter should come with compassion and empathy. Otherwise, if it is with bad intentions, it is called bullying. This is what Atypical is trying to fight by presenting this character with understanding.
Sam cannot control his internal thoughts and often exposes them in unrelated situations. He is honest and tells the truth without considering other people’s reactions because of how his mind functions. He doesn’t filter which things are suitable to say and when, but it’s totally pure. The fact that he is a teenager reduces misunderstanding.
But someone unaware of conditions that are accompanied by some particular characteristics that render a person ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ according to usual standards could cause bad treatment. There are a lot of such phenomena observed in society and particularly in school, as kids are not ready to understand. Atypical raises awareness and the fact that it’s a teen show contributes in the campaign against bullying for all ages. It prepares the community to accept minorities.
Sam is different, and this makes his life harder than most other individuals. He finds difficulty in communication, and this complicates his relationships with others, especially those that cannot see his condition in depth. It’s very important people to know how humans with any disorders might perceive the world and love in a different way. Atypical is very enlightening towards this direction.
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However, not all humans can understand, so people like Sam need to find the right company. Sam’s environment in Atypical shows understanding, but not every person Sam meets may be in that position. His father, Doug Gardner (portrayed by Michael Rapaport), told him in Season One: “I mean you want to be with someone who appreciates you for what you are. You know, who loves all the little odd things about you, who gets you.”
So Sam, and all people like Sam, must also understand that some things in life may limit their dreams. For example, Sam is in love with his psychologist, Julia (portrayed by Amy Okuda). This is a taboo love that makes Sam’s life even more difficult. But Sam loves her purely and charmingly. He’s inspired by her, and due to this, it’s only with her can he overcome his problem. And while it’s hard for someone sensitive to resist this kind of love, Julia decides to stay away from him. This is a fate for people who are different. They face isolation for several reasons.
They have social difficulties and may hurt a lot inside. They can experience a lot of pain from not being able to see their life flow through happiness. Sam tries other psychologists but sees no chemistry. He compares them to Julia and says “I don’t think this is going to work out.” It’s important for people with disorders form their life as they want, as this helps them heal. They need guidance and love. But they must also be taught to accept that some things cannot be done.
I don’t know if there will ever be a day when the whole world will be ready to embrace people who are different, but obviously there are strong attempts and Atypical is one of them. My belief is that we should not watch TV series and movies only for fun and entertainment. We should watch them with a critical eye. We must try to see how we can be helped or help others to improve every situation that has a complexity in society. Personally, I am inspired by this and generally shows that pass social messages like Atypical.
This article was featured in Issue 84 – The Journey to Good Health and Well-Being