Netflix Review: Atypical

If you’re looking for a new show to binge, look no further than Netflix’s Atypical. I started watching this show because a friend recommended it to me, and I finished the entire three seasons in one weekend. It’s a relatable show full of comedy, drama, and realistic issues.  

 

Warning, there are spoilers ahead! 

 

The show is centered around Sam Gardner, a teenage boy with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects his communication and social skills. His special interest is the Arctic, and throughout the show, we see Sam relate parts of his life to elements of Antarctica. In each episode, we see Sam's typical teenage life and how that looks through an ASD lens. For example, in the first season, Sam desperately wants a girlfriend. However, being on the spectrum he needs to overcome extra obstacles to get into a relationship. Later, we see him start university and deal with the transition from high school to university.  

The show also focuses on other people in Sam’s life and builds a storyline around them. First and foremost, Sam’s family is anything but perfect. His mother Elsa struggles with Sam’s growing independence and as a result, needing her help less. As he’s gotten older, Sam has pushed away Elsa’s overprotective parenting measures. She begins seeing another man to cope, which creates heartbreak and tension within the family. Meanwhile, Sam’s father Doug never had many things in common with his son. He felt disconnected from Sam and struggled relating to him. However, he and Sam become closer throughout the show. Sam begins to confide in his dad more than before, and starts turning to him for advice.

The show also focuses on Sam’s younger sister, Casey. She’s a track star and strives to get into university on a track scholarship. She’s invited to transfer to a prestigious prep school  to achieve this. Throughout the three seasons, we see her struggle with friendships, her boyfriend, her sexuality, and figuring out her future. I enjoyed Casey’s storyline as I felt it was relatable to many high school girls. 

Atypical features other vibrant and energetic characters too. Zahid, Sam’s best friend and coworker, is always there to provide a laugh and to give Sam outrageous advice on how to navigate love and relationships. Paige, who becomes Sam’s girlfriend, is a loud, energetic perfectionist. She is high-achieving and can do anything she sets her mind to. She even organizes a low-sensory school dance for students with ASD! However, once Paige reaches university, she finds the experience to be very different than she imagined. She struggles to make friends, achieve good grades and starts excessively online shopping to cope. She eventually drops out and confides in Casey that since her life hasn’t turned out how she planned, she feels like a failure. Yet, she eventually learns her worth and that her path doesn’t need to be traditional. 

What I loved most about this show were the characters. Each of them were quirky and comedic, yet deep and relatable. I felt so close to every one of them as if I knew them personally. Out of each character, there’s a storyline that most of us have likely experienced or can relate to. It also gives a realistic insight into teens with ASD and what their experiences are like. Each episode was heartwarming, with the perfect mix of comedy.