[TV REVIEW] Atypical, an atypical show

Casie hugs Sam after he has had a hard day.

Fair Use: Netflix

Casie hugs Sam after he has had a hard day.

Atypical season 3 centers Sam, a 19-year-old with autism, navigating college, complex relationships, and gaining independence. While Sam keeps busy, the rest of his family deals with their own problems. The show premiered on Netflix in August 2017, with season 3 released November 2019.

In seasons 1 and 2, the story revolves around Sam (Keir Gilchrist). Sam trying to become responsible, attempting to make friends at school, pursuing a romantic relationship, and attempting to sort out his feelings. Though the other characters have side plots, Sam is the main focus of the story. In season 3, however, the side plots become almost as important as Sam’s story. Accepted to Clatin Prep on a track scholarship, Casie, Sam’s sister, struggles to navigate a completely different school world than she is used to. On top of all that, her relationship with her boyfriend starts to fall apart when Casie catches feelings for Izzy, the captain of the track team at Clatin. Other characters face similar struggles, such as Elsa, Sam’s mom, and Doug, Sam’s dad, after Elsa cheats on Doug with a bartender in season 2.

Most of the actors and actresses in Atypical are incredibly realistic and pour their feelings into their acting. Gilchrist, who plays Sam, does a very realistic job of acting like someone who actually has autism, even though he does not. When the show first came out, many viewers first thought Gilchrist actually had autism. Even though Gilchrist does not have autism, other cast members playing students in Sam’s support group did. Putting actors on the spectrum into a Netflix show is a huge milestone towards acceptance.

Strong central themes in Atypical include maturing, discovering identity, staying true to yourself and others, love, family, friendship, acceptance, and fighting the idea that people are normal.”

Another milestone towards acceptance is casting Brigette Lundy-Paine, like Casey, who uses they/them pronouns. Paine does a wonderful job conveying realistic humor and feelings into all of her acting. Fivel Stewart, who plays Izzy, also does an equally good job of bringing realistic feelings and emotions into her acting. The only actors that seem a little overdramatic are Jennifer Jason Leigh, as Elsa, and Nik Dodani, as Sam’s best friend Zahid. Though they both seem to fit into their roles naturally, they can almost be a little too dramatic during dramatic moments.

Overall, Atypical is a warm and heartfelt show, with almost constant comedy that will make viewers want to keep watching. The show has a diverse set of characters, so almost anyone can relate to someone in the show no matter their age, sexuality, gender, or race. The show catches on to small problems that actually come up in life, such as tense relationships or fitting in, and doesn’t overdo it one topic or theme. Some of the side plots in the show are a little unrealistic, like being in the wrong or right place in the wrong or right time over and over again, but then again, it keeps things interesting.

Holding many great messages and morals, strong central themes in Atypical include maturing, discovering identity, staying true to yourself and others, love, family, friendship, acceptance, and fighting the idea that people are normal. Atypical conveys these themes without being sappy or overdoing it. The show is best fitted for teens and young to middle-aged adults. Anyone under the age of 11 years old should avoid it or watch with a parent. Overall, Aytipical is a great show.

Rating: ★★★★