Atypical: An eye-opener to the reality that normalcy is a myth

Sophia Lim, Staff Writer


“I’m a weirdo, that’s what everyone says.”

Sam Gardner, played by Keir Gilchrist, is the main character in the 2017 comedy-drama Netflix series directed by Robia Rashid, “Atypical.” Season two is expected to arrive in the future with the first season currently available. The central focus of this TV show is to bring attention to the social works of an 18-year old boy diagnosed with autism, who is trying to find love amidst the cruel and dangerous world of girls and dating. The show is a narrative of Gardner’s thoughts and mix of some of his sessions with his therapist Julia played by Amy Okuda. Gardner tends to relate many of his social, awkward, interactions with facts about the Antarctic life and penguins, of which he is well-versed.

“Atypical” shows the struggles of an autistic individual attempting to find a way to fit into this world of “normal,” through ways that are not normal, with his mother Elsa, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, who is trying to get a grip of her own life. His father Doug (Michael Rapaport) wants to be closer to his son after years of never really trying to bond with him due to his diagnosis. His sister Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) happens to be the only one in his life who treats who him as normal, while at the same time, she is also very protective of him. This series is a well-mixed batter of drama and comedy.

Apart from being socially awkward and overly factual, Gardner suffers from the symptoms of autism that make his everyday surroundings a struggle to deal with. The show teaches us how some take advantage of the many opportunities that everyday neuro-typical functioning people have, that those who are atypical such as Gardner, don’t get to experience. It showcases how it affects the whole family and those who are close to the person and, in a way, brings viewers a sense of understanding and empathy towards all.

Though the main focus is Gardner and his journey to find himself a girlfriend and build a love life, each character in the show also has their own individual story, which teach great lessons. Each character tries to better themselves, while also building close and personal relationships with those around them. They all try to improve, try to be present, and try to be normal.

But, normal is overrated. Like Gardner, with his research and interviews on how to talk to girls, they all do things to get somewhere, too. Elsa finds ways to be a better mother and wife, and to accommodate Gardner’s needs. Doug compensates for walking out on his family years ago, trying to rebuild a relationship by being there for Gardner to talk to, as well as asking his therapist for ways to better communicate with him. Casey, as a teen with a boyfriend, tries to balance her life of track and field, and battling the guilt of whether or not she should take a scholarship, far away from her brother. As each attempt to grasp the whole idea and concept of normalcy and perfection, they learn they can’t. As Gardner himself stated: “Whoever said practice makes perfect is an idiot. Humans can’t be perfect because we’re not machines. The best thing you can say about practice is that it makes, better.”

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