By: Ava Mrozik
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY, N.Y.- The Netflix series, “Atypical,” was released in August of 2017, showing the struggles that people on the autistic spectrum most commonly face on a daily basis. Sam, the main character of the Netflix series, struggles through high school by dealing with social encounters such as relationships, friendships and family life. Throughout the show, he frequently gets overwhelmed with social interactions and pressures from others surrounding him so in response, he tends to run and hide (usually in the janitor’s closet at school) and puts on his headphones to cancel out any sound. However, aside from his struggles at school, he has the help and support from his older sister, Casey, who goes to the same high school. Sam also has a best friend, Zahid, who he works with at an electronic store. Zahid most commonly helps Sam with relationship advice and how to attract girls which in many cases, backfires on both of them.
This Netflix series adds comedy with these daily struggles that Sam and others surrounding him have to go through each and every day. For example, Casey is faced with her own relationship struggles with her boyfriend and gets bullied by her teammates, while Sam deals with his relationship struggles with a girl at school who he likes but does not know how to approach it in the ‘right way.’ Throughout the show, each character is trying to help another character, while dealing with their own life obstacles at the same time.
In my own opinion, this is a very clever way of introducing to an audience of the common struggles that people with autism may have to face. More specifically, this show does not focus on only Sam dealing with his social anxieties but also touches on the other characters surrounding him and how that may affect their lives. This is a very useful way of understanding the differences people are faced with and how they adapt to every day life, no matter how difficult it may seem.
Although all of Sam’s situations may not be completely relatable with others who are on the autism spectrum or know someone who is, it is a way for Netflix users to understand, at least briefly, of why people with autism may react a certain way and how autism does not define that person.
I certainly recommend this Netflix series for anyone who may be interested and I would love hearing from others on what your own opinion of the show is.