Why You Should Be Watching Atypical

Atypical is a heartwarming dramedy that follows Sam, a teenager on the autism spectrum, who has decided he is ready for romance. However, first, he needs to become more independent, which also sends his overprotective mother, Elsa, on her own life-changing path. Casey, Sam’s scrappy little sister, attempts to gain any attention from her parents, while also being protective of Sam. And Doug, Sam’s father, struggles to connect with his son and finally begins to realize his shame at Sam’s diagnosis.

Although the show is filled with laughs, it also is a great depiction of a family going through some difficulties and not just those around Sam himself. Elsa and Doug’s marriage has its ups and downs, with Elsa suddenly no longer being needed as a caregiver, something she’s defined herself around, and Doug attempting to connect with Sam and accept that autism is a large part of who he is. Casey struggles with the complex relationship she has with her brother. While she’s irritated at Sam for distracting their parents from her own accomplishments, she also wants to protect Sam from bullies and heartache, on top of dealing with the issues of being a teenage girl and teasing Sam as a little sister will do.

Zahid, Sam’s coworker, and best friend is certainly my favorite character. Not only is he hilarious, but he does not treat Sam any different because of his autism. He is concerned with Sam’s love life, gives him advice (albeit, terrible advice), stands up for him (even to the police!), helps him to broaden his experiences and handle change.

The show explores the life of a teenager with autism, tossing in occasional explanations that allow the audience to better understand some of the vocabulary and background that they might not be aware of. It tries hard to give the audience some sense of what Sam’s everyday experiences are like, such as demonstrating how clothes with too many zippers and textures overwhelm his senses by distorting sounds and visuals for viewers. Sam, who stumbles and struggles to do “normal” teenage experiences, uses his knowledge of Antarctica and penguins to explain and mirror that of what’s going on in his own life.

Although the show had some struggles with their depiction of a person on the spectrum in the first season, the second season has been praised as taking a step in the right direction, focusing on the aspects of an autistic person's struggle. There are moments when Sam brings up facts seemingly at random, can't determine when to take things literally or how to pick up on unspoken social rules, and his attempts to work toward a successful future, but discomfort in changing his routine and uncertainty in just what it is he wants.

All in all, I would definitely recommend using your spring break to check out this hilarious family show.