Atypical is a coming-of-age television series created by Robia Rashid for Netflix. It focuses on the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), who is on the autism spectrum. The first season was released on August 11, 2017, consisting of eight episodes. The ten-episode second season was released on September 7, 2018. In October 2018, the series was renewed for a third season of ten episodes.
|Created by||Robia Rashid|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||18 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Robia Rashid|
|Producer(s)||Jennifer Jason Leigh|
|Running time||26–38 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Weird Brain|
Sony Pictures Television
|Original release||August 11, 2017 –|
The first season received mostly positive reviews, though the show was criticized for its lack of autistic actors and perceived inaccuracies in its depiction of autism. The second season featured more actors and writers with autism, and also received mostly positive reviews.
Sam Gardner, an 18-year-old from Connecticut with autism, announces that he wants to start dating. His father, Doug, has struggled to connect with Sam and is thrilled when Sam approaches him for advice. When Sam wants to surprise his crush with chocolate-covered strawberries, Doug drives him to her house only to discover that Sam's crush is Julia, Sam's 26-year-old therapist. Doug quickly pulls Sam away and tells him to find a girlfriend his own age. Sam decides he needs a "practice girlfriend" and, with the help of his friends and family, begins to learn the social nuances of dating.
As Sam grows more independent, his mother Elsa struggles to find a life outside of being his guardian. During a night out with friends, Elsa meets a bartender and begins an affair with him. Sam's younger sister, Casey, breaks a track-and-field record and receives an athletic scholarship to a prestigious but distant high school. Although she wants to attend, she is nervous about what leaving will mean for Sam. Her concerns are exacerbated when she discovers that Doug abandoned their family for a while after Sam's diagnosis and that Elsa is having an affair. Meanwhile, Julia finds a chocolate-covered strawberry Sam left behind during his visit. She accuses her boyfriend of cheating on her, which leads him to break up with her. After he moves out, Julia discovers that she is pregnant with his child.
Upon learning of Elsa's affair, Doug quickly kicks her out of the house, leaving him to complete all household tasks by himself, causing stress. Doug later allows Elsa back into the house under his guidelines, although he remains distant. Sam, no longer able to see Julia due to a conflict of interest, fails to find a new therapist he is comfortable with. The school's guidance counsellor, Ms. Whitaker, encourages Sam to apply to university and join her peer group for students on the spectrum, which prepares students for graduation and independence.
Although she feels unwelcome at Clayton Preparatory School, Casey is befriended by the captain of the track team, Izzie, who is initially mean to her. The two develop a close relationship, and Casey develops romantic feelings for Izzie towards the end of the season–leaving her wondering what it means for her and her boyfriend, Evan. Without Casey being in Sam's school, he begins to express the changes in his life by sketching in his notebook more frequently. After his drawings are discovered by Ms. Whitaker, Sam applies to Denton University's Scientific Illustration program and is accepted. Meanwhile, Julia deals with frustrations regarding a lackluster proposal, as well as her pregnancy.
Cast and charactersEdit
- Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner, an 18-year-old boy on the autism spectrum who is obsessed with Antarctica. Gilchrist said about the character, "He's one person that is on the autism spectrum. He's a very specific character".
- Brigette Lundy-Paine as Casey Gardner, Sam's younger sister who is very protective of him
- Jennifer Jason Leigh as Elsa Gardner, Sam and Casey's overprotective mother
- Michael Rapaport as Doug Gardner, Sam and Casey's father and Elsa's husband
- Amy Okuda as Julia Sasaki, Sam's therapist
- Graham Rogers as Evan Chapin, Casey's boyfriend
- Nik Dodani as Zahid, Sam's best friend, a "dweeby and foul-mouthed lothario"
- Raúl Castillo as Nick, a bartender Elsa has an affair with
- Jenna Boyd as Paige Hardaway, Sam's classmate
- Rachel Redleaf as Beth Chapin, Evan's sister, whom Casey stands up for after witnessing her get bullied by stuck up mean girl Bailey Bennett
- Fivel Stewart as Izzie (season 2–present), Casey's enemy-turned-friend
- Graham Phillips as Nate (season 2–present), Izzie's boyfriend
- Casey Wilson as Ms. Whitaker (season 2–present)
Season 1 (2017)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"Antarctica"||Seth Gordon||Robia Rashid||August 11, 2017|
|2||2||"A Human Female"||Michael Patrick Jann||Mike Oppenhuizen||August 11, 2017|
|3||3||"Julia Says"||Michael Patrick Jann||Brian Tanen||August 11, 2017|
|4||4||"A Nice Neutral Smell"||Seth Gordon||Annabel Oakes||August 11, 2017|
|5||5||"That's My Sweatshirt"||Michael Patrick Jann||Dennis Saldua||August 11, 2017|
|6||6||"The D-Train to Bone Town"||Michael Patrick Jann||Mike Oppenhuizen & Jen Regan||August 11, 2017|
|7||7||"I Lost My Poor Meatball"||Joe Kessler||Robia Rashid||August 11, 2017|
|8||8||"The Silencing Properties of Snow"||Michael Patrick Jann||Robia Rashid||August 11, 2017|
Season 2 (2018)Edit
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|9||1||"Juiced!"||Joe Kessler||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
|10||2||"Penguin Cam and Chill"||Ryan Case||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
|11||3||"Little Dude and the Lion"||Silver Tree||Theresa Mulligan Rosenthal||September 7, 2018|
|12||4||"Pants on Fire"||Geeta Patel||Mike Oppenhuizen||September 7, 2018|
|13||5||"The Egg Is Pipping"||Wendey Stanzler||Bob Smiley||September 7, 2018|
|14||6||"In the Dragon's Lair"||Silver Tree||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
|15||7||"The Smudging"||Pam Thomas||Robia Rashid & Dennis Saldua||September 7, 2018|
|16||8||"Living at an Angle"||Pete Chatmon||Jen Regan & Theresa Mulligan Rosenthal||September 7, 2018|
|17||9||"Ritual-licious"||Ryan Case||Mike Oppenhuizen & D.J. Ryan||September 7, 2018|
|18||10||"Ernest Shackleton's Rules for Survival"||Ken Whittingham||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
Background and productionEdit
The coming-of-age series, originally known as Antarctica, was created and written by Robia Rashid, who previously worked on How I Met Your Mother and The Goldbergs as a producer. For a more accurate portrayal, she consulted with Michelle Dean, a California State University professor who worked at UCLA's Center for Autism Research and Treatment. Gilchrist said in an interview for Vulture, "[Rashid] wrote the script. We talked a ton and I did research and I watched movies and I read books". The supporting character Christopher is played by Anthony Jacques, who is autistic.
On September 13, 2017, Atypical was renewed for a ten-episode second season. David Finch, who is autistic, joined the writing team. Eight autistic actors from The Miracle Project have supporting roles in the second season as members of a peer support group which Sam joins, and other autistic actors play neurotypical characters. Executive producer Mary Rohlich also said the show was "bringing in more female directors and female diversity": seven of the ten episodes were directed by women and half of the writing team were female.
At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the first season received a score of 66, based on 20 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews", and a score of 77% at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.32 out of 10. The acting, including Gilchrist's performance, was generally well-received, although Gilchrist's portrayal received criticism from some quarters for being inaccurate and stereotypical. The lack of autistic people in the cast was also questioned.
Sara Luterman of The New York Times writes that the second season improves on the first. Sam's decision to go to art school deviates from common depictions of autism, and his autism is no longer "the source of [his family's] misery". Luterman praises the involvement of more autistic people as writers and actors, but criticizes that Sam's misogyny is unaddressed and that he is "still portrayed as more of a checklist than a person". Lorraine Ali of Los Angeles Times lauds the show's continuing "unique perspective, sharp humor and empathy", and describes the show as a "wonderfully atypical family drama" with "many moving and awkward moments".
In a negative review, Jen Chaney of Vulture writes that the show "loses some of its focus" in the second season, such as with the "unnecessary side plot" of Julia, an "underdeveloped side character", or by attempting to make Zahid a "lovably wacky sidekick". Chaney writes that the show "often seem contrived or aim blatantly for the easy joke", and criticizes scenes between Doug and Elsa which "don't seem reflective of actual human behavior". However, Chaney praises Lundy-Paine's acting, which switches between "understanding and exasperation", and Gilchrist's "yard-stick straight" acting.
|2018||Satellite Awards||Best Musical or Comedy Series||Atypical||Nominated|||
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