atypical

Netflix Original ‘Atypical’ improves on previous seasons

Nov 13 • Arts & Leisure, Top Stories • 378

Looking for a feel-good, quirky and cute coming-of-age series to cozy up with now that the weather has turned snowy?
Well, you’re in luck. Netflix released the third season of its original series “Atypical” on Nov. 1, and this show seems to get better with age.
“Atypical” follows 18-year-old Sam, who is on the Autism spectrum, as he navigates life, love and self-discovery.
The show focuses on his attempts to break free of his overprotective parents’ grasp and is told through stories he tells to his therapist, Julia.
The first season focuses on Sam’s senior year of high school and his decision to start dating.
In an effort to find a “practice girlfriend,” he starts dating his classmate, Paige, who is extremely peppy and annoying to him at first.
At the end of the first season, Sam’s dad, Doug, finds out that his mom, Elsa, had an affair with a bartender and kicks her out of the house.
The second season is a continuation of Sam’s senior year, and focuses on his family’s new dynamic and his decision to apply to college.
His parents are now back in the same house, but his dad remains distant, and his sister, Casey, transferred to a prestigious high school on a track scholarship.
At the end of the season, Sam decides to attend a local college for scientific illustration.
The third season starts at Sam’s freshman orientation for college and follows him as he navigates his first semester.
He continues to break free of his parents’ grasp, which proves to be difficult for his mother, who still wants to help him with school and daily life.
There is also some development for Casey, who discovers she has a crush on her female teammate and friend.
I won’t talk about how this season ends, so you’ll just have to check it out on Netflix
In my opinion, “Atypical” is one of the best original series Netflix has produced.
It’s inclusive without being fake about it, which is something that is hard to find on the platform, or anywhere, these days.
While the actor who plays Sam isn’t on the autism spectrum himself, the show includes several actors who are and play Sam’s friends and members of his support group.
There really isn’t much obvious positive representation of people on the autism spectrum in the media, so having a show on a huge platform that paints this community in such a positive light is very necessary.
The show redefines what is “normal” by proving that people with autism can be just as functional and “normal” as people without it.
It also makes the audience rethink what “normal” really is, which is very important.
I love the way this show tells its story. By making it solely from Sam’s perspective, it adds a unique factor that many shows lack.
The show represents his difference as his failure to understand figurative language, and while it never ceases to be funny, the show never makes fun of him for it.
Instead, it embraces his diagnosis and portrays him as a relatable teen who sometimes find it difficult to relate to others.
Not only is the show told through Sam’s therapy sessions, but he relates a lot of what happens to him through his knowledge of Antarctica and penguins.
This is yet another unique factor of the show and has resulted in me learning a lot about penguins and Antarctic expeditioners.
“Atypical” doesn’t stop its representation at the autism spectrum, though. It also tackles everyday racism and the LGBTQ+ community.
When Casey visits the private school she’s being recruited by, she is interviewed by a current student, Jayson.
When Casey tells him that he looks familiar, Jayson responds with “well, I’m black, so they put me on all the brochures.”
It’s in little moments like this that the show subtly calls out the representational tokenism and inherent racism in predominantly white institutions.
As for the LGBTQ+ community, that doesn’t come into play until season three.
Although it’s implied that Casey’s friend, Izzie, is developing a crush on her during season two, it is never explicitly discussed.
But, in season three, things start to progress on that front, resulting in Casey and Izzie acting on their feelings and causing quite a bit of drama.
I’ll keep myself from saying anything more, though.
Overall, “Atypical” is definitely worth taking the time to watch.
Each episode is only about 30 minutes long, and there’s only 10 episodes in a season.
So, if you’re looking for a feel-good Netflix series that doesn’t take up much of your time, “Atypical” is the show for you.
I highly recommend watching it to take your mind off the stress of the end of the semester.

MADDY BRUCE
bruce014@knights.gannon.edu

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