Atypical Netflix Review
by Andrea Valerio
Atypical is a sincere comedy that follows Sam Gardner, an 18 year-old teenager, on the autism spectrum. In the past, Sam didn’t worry about romance, but one day he decided he was finally ready for it. For Sam to start dating, he will need to be more independent. As a result of this, his mother Elsa goes on her own life-changing path. While thinking about how to get a girlfriend, Sam asks people around him and makes a small pros and cons list about a classmate he is thinking of asking to be his girlfriend. We like to say that we’re all a little weird, since most of us can control when we want to freak out and think before saying something. Sam doesn’t. He’s odd all the time, and will be for the rest of his life. Atypical isn’t trying to show us how Sam is “just like us,” because he’s not.
Throughout the eight episodes on season one, we watch Sam grow and understand more about romance and feelings. We learn about his struggles in everyday life and how his family has tried to change to be “normal.” Growing up, Sam has depended on his 16 year-old sister, Casey Gardner, and Elsa to help him. His father, Doug Gardner, struggled to be a part of Sam’s life, throughout the show he tries to be more involved with Sam, by giving his son advice and help about girls. This causes Elsa to feel unwanted and jealous of the new relationship developing between Sam and Doug. Making her do things that later affects the family.
Casey is torn between irritation with her humiliating brother and a need to protect him and anyone else who gets bullied. She is very overprotective of Sam and believes that she is the only one that can bully and taunt him. In the middle of the season, Casey gets a college interview opportunity, during the interview she explains how she views her life by saying “Mom and Sam always used to say neurotypicals to describe everyone who wasn’t on the spectrum. They called them NTs. I thought they were saying ‘empties’ because Sam takes up so much space, everyone around him is empty.” Throughout the whole show, everything revolves and has to be about Sam. Therefore, Casey has never experienced life without everything being about Sam. In this case, she struggles with deciding whether she should accept or not because she doesn’t want to leave Sam.
Atypical is not a sob story, autism interpreter, or after-school special about the importance of tolerance. The show is sympathetic as it is snarky, making the viewers understand the Gardner’s everyday life on the spectrum, with small bouts of comedy, which is rarely found with productions about autism. The whole family is left wondering who they are or what they should be doing, now that Sam is growing up and thinking differently. Atypical is witty and lighthearted, perfect for your next Netflix binge.