*And some format changes…
From now on, The Role Star can exist in the form of a written review. Let’s face it; the video version just wasn’t going to get done. I have failed. …And I’m sorry.
So, without ANY further interruption… OOOOOOOHHHH, shiny…
FOCUS, JON!!!! *claps hands*
Today, we’ll FINALLY take a look at the first two seasons of Atypical.
Season 1: The Horror…
Zahid and his influence over Sam
I mean, I get it… Every person needs a friend like every protagonist needs a down-to-earth confidant to keep perspective over the series of events unfolding throughout the show. And, in case you were wondering, I hope you’ll be as disappointed as I was to find that Zahid is not that down-to-earth confidant.
I absolutely hated Zahid this season. Not only is he giving spectacularly bad dating advice, but he’s keenly aware that he’s giving spectacularly bad dating advice… or even just spectacularly bad advice. Period. A strip club?! Are you serious?! Would they even let a high schooler in like that? *No, really. I have no idea. I’ve never been.*
I know Zahid means well. He only wants to help Sam with his social life, but how oblivious does Sam have to be to not notice how deep that rabbit hole goes… or loyal to not care that Zahid’s handing him some pretty tall boots?
Sam and Paige
Paige is too good for Sam this season. Nominate the girl for sainthood. It’s not like Sam really understands the relationship he’s committed himself to. And she’s with him by his side through all of it despite that!
…At least, up until he tells her he doesn’t love her in front of her entire family at the dinner table.
He keeps a list of pros and cons of dating her; she convinces the entire PTO AND school board to make the Snowball dance sensory friendly. That’s… love? No, actually. That’s… pretty messed up. Girl, you deserve much better treatment than that from anyone you date.
Like, Netflix made Sam to be a jack-ass for the sake of being a jack-ass. But it’s okay because he’s supposed to be autistic.
There are so many things wrong with that statement. If you still need help finding them, then welcome to The Aspie Dialogues! Feel free to poke around until you become a decent human being.
And speaking of being a decent human being…
Sam and Julia -or- How I Stopped Caring About Ethical Patient/Therapist Obligations and Became a Flaming Ball of Conflicts of Interest
Yeah, no. …With a capital NO. Sam’s plot line, here, is just… NO. I’m not even going to dignify this with a response.
Moving right along…
Where’s the Autism in the Show ABOUT Autism?
Hello… Any autistics home?
This was supposed to be a show about autism, right? So, why does it feel like Netflix forgot to bring the actual autism?
Instead of Sam and his diagnosis driving the action and the plot, it feels more like he’s reacting to everybody else’s plot lines. And what kind of school district only has one — count ’em, ONE — diagnosed student in the entire school?
I think Netflix forgot the most important part of a show about autism… Three guesses what that might be…
It’s like they used Sam’s autism as an excuse to make the most unlikable main character they could think of.
It’s like Pinocchio telling Geppetto he wants to be a real boy, and Geppetto just dismisses him while reading the evening newspaper.
“That’s nice, son. Sure you do… Kids today, I tell ya…”
If you’re going to make a show about autism, at least do the community the decency of committing to it.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Role Stars
Season 2: The Fix-ening…
Improvements Over Season 1
For Season 2, I love how much of the feedback Netflix took to heart from Season 1!
The characters, now established, have room to grow. Sam’s perspective now runs the show. He joins a support group and starts making connections with other students like him. But the best part of all? Get ready for this…
They fixed Zahid.
That’s right. Zahid now has a method to his madness, however flawed it still may be… We see him start to mature, and for as much as he inspires Sam, Sam inspires him to do right by himself and go for his dreams.
So, okay… There’s that thing about the lying, but Sam took that way too literally.
It becomes so much clearer why Sam and Zahid are friends.
Doug… Just… Doug…
Okay, so it’s great that Doug’s starting to connect with other parents. In one case, he and Elsa reconnect with the parents of another student who scammed Sam out of $700. After enduring half of a season of tension between the two, it was nice seeing Doug start to forgive Elsa for the affair with Nick.
What wasn’t so nice was Doug’s obsession with Nick and getting even. Please don’t be that guy who has an affair to get back at his wife. Even if Elsa misunderstands it as such, I don’t want another season of what is essentially the same plot line from Season 2, this year. Can we agree to that much, Netflix?
Casey ❤️ Izzie?
Tread carefully, Netflix… This is not a plot line to go into haphazardly… I wonder… what’s the prevalence of autism in the LGBT+ community? Can someone in the comments answer that for me?
That Law Enforcement Plot Line…
Wow… We’re just going for it, this season. Aren’t we?
As accurate as that plot line was, I really advise caution to Netflix going forward. This is an opportunity to start bridging the Great Schism of Autism.
Deep in my gut, I feel like this is going to end up on one side or the other with zero middle-ground. Law enforcement is a polarized topic in any community. Again, Netflix… Tread carefully.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Role Stars
Sam and Paige
I didn’t like them as a couple for much of this season, but in the time since it started streaming, I feel like their relationship has grown on me. I want to see more of that dynamic in Season 3.
Elsa, the Ice Queen?
Everybody just comes down hard on Elsa in Season 2, and they just refuse to let up. Maybe, if we had seen more of Elsa’s lies and manipulations throughout the series, it might be pseudo-justified, but… I just don’t have the capacity to suspend disbelief over this.
She seems like she’s putting in an honest effort to make amends for her actions during Season 1, but nobody’s even hearing her out.
Just let me be perfectly honest, here. She was a real ice queen throughout Season 1. But the way everybody treats her during Season 2 seems a bit disproportionate and harsh.
Please Let Sam Grow Awareness
I really want Sam to grow as a character, and as a person, as the show progresses. Season 2 Sam seems like he’s forgotten every lesson he’d learned from Season 1’s events.
Let me be the first to say this: The college plot lines going forward are going to try Sam to the core. I know this from experience. Believe me. It’s about to get real for Sam.
Wishlist for Season 3:
- I want to see Sam and Paige attempt a long-distance relationship. This would be a very interesting angle to explore for the benefit of the autism community.
- Can we see more of Sam-O-Vision™, please? The first-person perspectives we get from Sam’s point-of-view are unique and could be better utilized (read: do this more) throughout the series. We’re often shown the daily lives of autistics as a general audience, but we never really get to experience what it looks and sounds like to the actual autistics. Sam-O-Vision™ is a potential game-changer and can give Atypical a distinctive look and feel if executed properly.
- Will Zahid actually go to nursing school? As the brother-in-law of a registered nurse in Ohio, I’ll be watching this developing plot line closely.