Entertainment, Reviews

Autism meets medical genius

The Good Doctor premieres on ABC

Sarah Emmerling

Freddie Highmore, the star of A&E’s “Bates Motel,” joins Richard Schiff, Antonia Thomas, and Nicholas Gonzalez in ABC’s new medical drama “The Good Doctor.” Highmore is spectacular in his portrayal of Shaun Murphy, who is a young doctor with high-functioning autism as well as savant syndrome. Murphy accepts a job position at St. Bonaventure Hospital in San Jose, fighting the efforts of other doctors trying to stop him from joining their team.

In the pilot episode, “Burnt Food,” Murphy saves a young boy’s life in an airport. Although there are other doctors present, none of them possess his level of knowledge and skill. Murphy has the disadvantage of struggling to communicate, leading people to dismiss his advice. As the injured boy arrives at the hospital, Murphy is questioned and doubted by the rest of the medical staff. There are even people who tell him that he doesn’t belong and fight for him to be replaced by another doctor.

The show is very cheerful, despite being about such a serious topic. It clearly proves that people on the autism spectrum are still capable of doing great things. It represents an audience that may feel as though they have less of a voice, showing the incredible scope of skills available to them. Highmore’s character avoids eye contact and makes inappropriately timed comments. These flaws do not deter him, however, as his brilliant diagnoses stun everyone who dares to underestimate him.

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