Netflix’s new comedy series, Atypical, feels like a typical coming-of-age story about a teenage boy who feels awkward, and whose life mission at this point is to just see boobs. What makes it different is that the boy, Sam (Keir Gilchrist), is also on the autism spectrum. The half-hour, eight episode series will focus on the life of Sam and his family as he strives to find his independence, and they come to terms with letting him.
Still, the trailer doesn’t do much to make this show feel like it’s exploring what it could given the subject matter. Netflix has been quick to point out that “Michelle Dean, who received her PhD from UCLA and worked at the UCLA Center for Autism and Research and Treatment before joining the faculty of CSU Channel Island, was also brought into the production to help guide an accurate depiction of autism spectrum disorder.” And while that is certainly an admirable (and smart) thing — especially for a show that seems to want to relate with its audience so much — it remains to be seen if the show can aptly balance that with its more tropey set up.
Check out the new trailer below:
Last year, SundanceTV debuted a series called The A Word, which focused on an English family whose young son is autistic, and how it has defined their world. It was a deeply affecting series, and one that found ways to balance humor and drama. On the comedy side, ABC’s Speechless (about a teenager with cerebral palsy) also immediately found the right balance of humor while dealing with important and difficult subject matter. So, it can be done — but it remains to be seen if Atypical can do it.
Atypical also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Rapaport, and Brigette Lundy-Paine; it premieres Friday, August 11th on Netflix. Below is the full synopsis:
Atypical is a coming of age story from the point-of-view of Sam (played by Keir Gilchrist), an 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum searching for love and independence. While Sam is on his funny and emotional journey of self-discovery, the rest of his family must grapple with change in their own lives while exploring the question: what does it really mean to be “normal”? Jennifer Jason Leigh stars as Sam’s mother, Elsa, who is on a life-changing path as her son gains more independence. Michael Rapaport plays Sam’s father, Doug, who desires to better connect with and understand his son. Brigette Lundy-Paine plays Sam’s scrappy sister, Casey, and Amy Okuda plays his therapist, Julia. With eight, half-hour episodes filmed in Los Angeles, Atypical was created and written by Robia Rashid and Academy-Award winning producer Seth Gordon. Together, Rashid and Gordon serve as executive producers alongside Mary Rohlich, with Jennifer Jason Leigh as producer. Michelle Dean, who received her PhD from UCLA and worked at the UCLA Center for Autism and Research and Treatment before joining the faculty of CSU Channel Island, was also brought into the production to help guide an accurate depiction of autism spectrum disorder. The series is produced by Sony Pictures Television for Netflix.