Autistics on TV

I heard about Netflix doing a show starring an autistic teen and I was both worried and intrigued.

I always wanna see more autistic representation but it’s um,complicated when it’s done by neurotypicals cause it can be so goddamned cliched. see the big bang theory for example.

we all want representation. beyond the savant trope,beyond the kid with meltdowns.

there’s a lot of autistic people living every day lives who don’t get to see themselves on tv.

so there’s no choice but to claim characters with similar traits. headcanon them.

one of the first characters I remember feeling that it was like me, weird and awkward and confused about the world was mr darcy in pride & prejudice. it’s actually one of the reasons I enjoyed the novel so much.

not because I wanted a mr darcy but because I saw myself in him and it was wonderful to think I might one day get an elizabeth of my own.

then I read perks of being a wallflower and I saw a lot of myself in charlie too.  that was in 2005.

I learned boys got to be weird. not so much girls.

it wasn’t till 2009 when by chance I saw an ep of leverage that I finally got to see a girl.

Parker became the first woman I saw on tv that was allowed to be weird af.

the creators didn’t want to label her as autistic cause they feared unfortunate implications, they didn’t want to make it seem like parker’s unconventional childhood had made her the way she was. but us fans knew better and we could claim her as one of us.

then there’s been a few more.

Broen became popular,enough to get two remakes, a british/french one and a mexican/us one.

I saw the FOX one, with diane kruger and I liked her character so fucking much I hunted down the original and the british one.

the british one is my fave. it’s a detective show led by a queer neurodivergent woman, what’s not to like?

There’s more characters to be headcanoned like gail peck on rookie blue (who’s undoubtedly,unsurprisingly,my fave) and rey in star wars.

and characters who are part of an ensemble or have an arc on a show. like fiona on elementary who was sadly underused.

and now two tv shows are coming with autistic leads:

Atypical on Netflix, about a teen starting to navigate the dating world, which I’ve already seen

and the good doctor on ABC about an stereotypical awkward genius working around ‘normal’ people with a tagline going ‘can a person who can’t relate to people save their lives?’ which is so many kinds of problematic, I don’t know where to start.  I’ll still watch at least an ep or two to check it out. but I’m concerned.

they’re both staring cis white neurotypical men, that’s already an issue.

Atypical,as I’ve said, it’s about a kid, a senior in highschool, Sam, who could be called ‘high functioning’ thought that’s outdated and kinda ableist language, who decides it’s time for him to start dating.

Is Atypical a perfect show? definitely not. it was never going to be, as a show written by neurotypicals. and it seems far too influenced by sheldon cooper at least in aesthetics. sam might as well be a teen sheldon, in looks at least.

Sam’s family consist of his overbearing mom, the typical autism mom, his sister who’s a school athlete and actually a pretty nice character in general, supportive and helpful, and his dad who’s kinda absent and disconnected, to the point he hasn’t told his coworker/best friend his son is autistic.

plus his best friend and coworker zahid, (sam works in a computer store) and his therapist Julia.

A lot of the show is Sam explaining his behaviour, in voice over or with his therapist.

What is interesting is that it is not just sam’s story, but how his journey into dating leads into independence and this has ramifications  for his whole family.

his sister gets an opportunity to go to a new school and wonders if its the right thing to do, if she’d be abandoning sam and all that.

his mum gets a chance of exploring life beyond being a mom, and make some new friends and new mistakes

his dad realises how disconnected he’s being and tries harder.

sam himself starts exploring life, dating, fucks up a lot, manages to get a girlfriend (for a while) and seriously impact his therapist’s life.

the good thing is that sam goes and does things and meets with new people and learns to connect with them and his family.

the bad part is that it is in many ways an stereotypical portrayal of an autistic boy.  which is something we’ve seen before even if it is under ‘awkward boy attempts to date’

I think of the show, sam himself isn’t the most interesting character.

he doesn’t feel fully realised as a character. we know he wants to date, that he likes penguins and antartica, and he’s good with computers. we know more of his diagnosis, of his issues, that of him as a person.

the show let us in on sam’s family life, and we learn about his mom, elsa,a life and issues, of his sister casey, his dad, and his therapist julia.

we get a far more complete picture of the different characters in sam’s life than we learn about sam. this is not the actor’s fault, keir gilchrist does a pretty good job with what he is given

the best relationship we see is sam and casey. unlike with his mum who treats him with too much care or his dad who doesn’t know what to do, or his friend who’s funny but shallow, there’s a loving relationship with his sister. they’re equal and she doesn’t resent their parents paying him so much attention and so little to her, she might resent their parents but not him and theirs is a pretty decent sibling relationship

All in all, atypical is a fairly entertaining show, but as autistic representation, it is lacking.

What I find somewhat strange is that Sam’s mom has a support group for fathers of kids with autism (they use person-first language) but sam himself doesn’t seem to have any kind of support, any autistic friends, either irl or online.

his mom’s friends have autistic kids but he doesn’t seem to like any of them.

these are all issues that can easily be resolved in s2 or beyond.

the series so far feel very much aimed at neurotypical people trying to generate some kind of empathy for autistic people.

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: “The only thing worse than me is you”

Recently, as in, 6am, I finished this lovely book that reimagines “Much Ado About Nothing” to a US school for geniuses.

Less recently, I’d fallen for the New Zealand-set-and-produced webseries “Nothing much to do” so I couldn’t help but see some parallels and imagine the cast in the book.

and NTMD’s Benedict and Beatrice? work fucking perfectly in this setting.

Benedict and Beatrice
Benedict and Beatrice from Nothing Much To Do

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Harry Potter’s Birthday

It’s Harry’s Birthday and today I got the 20th anniversary edition hardback. Ravenclaw, of course. It is so very pretty. I was so excited to finally get it. 

I also got a journal but it’s got movie colours. A bit disappointing. 

I wore my “books turn muggles into wizards today in honour of Jo and Harry. 

I also watched “an adventure in space and time” today. Been itching for it since the finale. 

I am very grateful they made such a movie. So people like me, younger watchers, can understand the history. It made me very emotional. Made me wanna watch more classic who.

Made me oh so excited for 13. I wish verity lambert couldve seen it. 

Its funny to think once upon a time i had no idea who she was. What doctor who was. Even as I started watching the show i didnt know. 

But now i kinda wanna be like her 

I particularly love the first Doctor’s goodbye to susan” no tears, no regrets, no anxieties… Just go forward in all your beliefs… ”

The whole damn story is super inspiring, the little show that could made by those the establishment looked down upon. 

But this particular bit of go forth and spread your wings; i believe in you, it feels… Personal I guess. 

Like he’s talking to me. And he makes me believe I can too. 

The Doctor showed me a better way of living my life. 

RIP Chester Bennington 

I was a big fan of Linkin Park in the early 00’s. I had just become a teenager and was fighting a storm of teenage angst 24/7 and here they came, offering understanding through their angry, raw music. 

In the late 90’s I’d been a backstreet boys fan. Or I thought I was. I’ve been thinking about it and I don’t know if I actually liked them or if it was just the thing to do. Because unlike other music I used to listen to, I don’t have much of an emotional connection to them. There’s a nostalgia involved in the very intense fandom shared with other girls at the time, which I did enjoy, but I don’t think I ever liked them for themselves or the music or whatever. I liked spice girls and s club 7 but those weren’t as cool. Which is weird, you’d think spice girls and their mesaage would’ve been more popular but… idk. 

It’s not that they weren’t known or that people didn’t like them. But there was almost a cult-like devotion to BSB. 

Like a year ago, they came to chile for a concert. A bunch of school friends went. I declined. I had no interest in going. In the last 15 years or so I’ve barely listened to their music and when I do it’s like.. Oh yeah I know this song. I can remember music videos. I can remember playing with friends. But that doesnt mean I enjoy the songs. Or seek them out. While I still enjoy some spice girls song. And have some s club 7 in my work out mix. 

I also haven’t listened to Linkin Park in a while. And listening to them I do remember the angsty mess I was back then. 

Listening to angry,angsty music, going from linkin park to dashboard confessional and similar. It was a complicated time. 

Becoming a teenager was so very complicated. Everything started changing so fast and I hardly had time to figure anything out and I felt like such an outsider. Things were bad for a while. 

My music tastes have evolved since then, my angsty, emotional music of choice being florence + the machine now for example, but I can still appreciate what came before. What got me through some awful times and made me feel like someone, somewhere understood what I was feeling in a time where I sure as hell didn’t. 

As I write this I have Linkin Park on shuffle on Spotify, and “My December” just came on. I hadn’t listened to this song in over a decade. It’s not one that plays on the radio. And I didn’t quite remember which song it was but the opening chords where so familiar that they gave me intense flashbacks, as if a movie of my life started playing. 

Book Review: The Long Earth Series

 

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I just read “The Long Mars” the third book in the Long Earth series but I don’t think I’d written a review before. Some mild spoilers and details to follow

The Long Earth series is about a world much like our own except that one day a man posts the blueprints for a machine online for the world to see and the whole world changes. That machine is called a ‘Stepper’ box and it allows people to walk or step into another world. Another earth, an infinite number of them, each of them different. The first book follows what unfolds after Step Day, following a few different stories. Joshua Valiente, a boy, and a cop, Monica Janssen in Madison,Wisconsin, in the United States. An AI claiming to be a reincarnated Buddhist monk named Lobsang. A family seeking a new start on the Long Earth. The political and economical ramifications of Step Day, how the market changes, how the population changes with mass migrations. How different goverments deal with all this. A growing hate movement. Religious crisis.

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Book Review: “Tonight the streets are ours”

Tonight the streets are ours’, by Leila Sales, tells the story of Arden, a girl whose selflessness once got her made into a doll with the tagline ‘recklessly loyal’, but at 17 those qualities are beginning to take their toll and when she finds herself questioning everything she turns to the internet and finds a website called ‘tonight the streets are ours’ where she finds what she hopes is a kindred spirit and decides to go on a roadtrip to meet them.

 

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