Photo from Netflix.com.
Back with deeper characters, harder challenges and a more authentic portrayal of those on the autism spectrum, season three of “Atypical” could be the show’s best season yet.
The season picks up following the show’s main character Sam on his journey of battling the statistic that only one in four people on the autism spectrum graduate from college.
While Sam is autistic, Keir Gilchrist, the actor who plays Sam, is not. However, Gilchrist excels at maintaining the authenticity of Sam’s character traits. Season three could arguably be the most accurate season yet as the show’s creators continue to produce a fictional television show about very real topics.
It’s difficult to determine if this show represents autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with complete accuracy because ASD is such a wide spectrum and no two people on it are necessarily alike. Sam is shown as high-functioning and so are some of the members of his support groups as you can see with the differences among all these individual characters and their personalities.
I think the show’s approach to creating a show with characters on the spectrum has been careful and has grown more accurate each season. Compared to other fictional movie or television show attempts I think “Atypical” is at the very least raising awareness and “normalizing” ASD.
Specifically for season three, Netflix said they worked with autistic author David Finch, to provide an accurate representation of ASD. Something new this season was the casting of roughly half a dozen actors who are actually on the spectrum. This is seen through a support group on Sam’s college campus that gets together to play board games and to help each other adjust to the new campus.
While the show highlights the challenges those on the autism spectrum face, it also showcases the challenges that all the other characters face as well. Sam’s parents, Doug and Elsa are struggling to restore their marriage while raising two teenagers and Sam’s younger sister Casey questions her sexuality and her future with track. Viewers even get to see a deeper side to Casey’s previous boyfriend Evan who is trying to figure out what direction he wants to take his life in.
I think this season’s best quality is the fact that it’s full of well-developed characters. If you’ve been watching the show since the beginning you’ve really gotten to witness all of the characters grow through actual life events, whether it’s graduating high school, starting or ending relationships or learning how to handle and accept independence.
Perhaps it took the creators awhile to have well-developed characters on the show but I think the pace the characters are developed really matches up with the timing of how people grow in real life.
Something to note about “Atypical” is that it has a strong family focus. While the show is about Sam living life on the spectrum, it also shows what this is like for the family who may have a member with ASD.
Having to wait a year in between the release of each season is unfortunate but well worth the wait. With season three just being released on Nov. 1 it’s still early for Netflix to announce if there will be a season four. Although with the positive reviews it’s been receiving and based on how season three ended there’s a high chance there will be a season four of “Atypical.”