If you’re like me you’re most likely guilty of piling up multiple shows or movies on your Netflix watch list. Until recently Atypical just existed on mine, every time the trailer began to play I ignored it and searched for something to else watch. A lazy Saturday at home led to my latest binge and I wish I had started sooner. An 18-year-old boy on the Autism spectrum decides he’s ready for his first girlfriend. This newfound sense of independence sends him and his mother down their own paths of self-discovery.
This Netflix original series is filled with traces of tolerance, compassion and unconditional love. The message is easily digestible despite the steady flow of serious teenage issues. It preaches that no one is truly normal; every family comes with its own set of conditions. Evidently its been well received, its Rotten Tomato score sits at 80% and the renewal for a third season was announced shortly after the release of Season 2 in September.
If a strong approval rating and positive messages aren’t enough reasons for you to watch Atypical, here are 5 more!
1. Easy to Watch
One of the elements that make this one such an easy series to binge is the runtime. Each episode varies in length with only a few reaching past thirty minutes; also the first season is only eight episodes! Collectively all 18 feel like the appropriate amount of time and allows for each episode to not be overextended. For this reason alone, Atypical is incredibly easy to watch.
2. Age Appropriate
When it comes to shows on Netflix or other streaming services, more often than not anything goes. Atypical presents some mature situations but they are carefully presented. There is still some inappropriate language and the same can be said for sexual content. For the most part, it’s a kindhearted, funny show that could lead to some meaningful conversations. I wouldn’t recommend you watch it with the entire family but if you’re looking for a way to spend time with your teenagers this is a good place to start.
3. Jennifer Jason Leigh
Leigh plays the overly cautious, devoted mother, Elsa. Her character is having difficulty transitioning back to a time when her children didn’t depend on her. Elsa is struggling with her new identity as a mother of two children quickly approaching adulthood. Since they discovered Sam was autistic, her son has been her top priority. Meanwhile her relationships with husband and daughter were pushed aside. When Sam expresses his interest in becoming more independent, Elsa also steps out on a journey that ultimately leads to chaos. She’s a flawed character who is allowed to make mistakes without becoming a villain. What I enjoyed most about Leigh’s performance in Atypical is that she does such an excellent job of communicating her character’s need to feel needed. It’s interesting to watch as her entire demeanor shifts once she is catering the emotional and physical needs of her family.
4. The Gardner Family
The Gardner family is just like the rest of us. Sam’s autism may come with its own set of challenges, however this show consistently reminds you that no one’s family is truly normal. Their family dynamic is authentic, their chemistry is powerful and their performances are compelling. Every circumstance that arises speaks to the strong bond shared between them; regardless of their personal issues with each other they come together is support of one another. Some of the most memorable moments are scenes starring Michael Rapaport (Doug Gardner). I’m not overly familiar with Rapaport’s body of work but his performance made me pay attention. Watching him you get a strong sense that Doug has stood in Elsa’s overbearing shadow ever since Sam’s diagnosis. His struggle to establish a relationship with his son, the undeniable bond shared with his daughter and the disconnection with his wife are all a part of what make this character feel so real.
5. A Compelling Lead
Sam is undoubtedly my favorite part of Atypical. The show creators have created such a lovable, compelling lead character. His personality is so like-able, it’s impossible no to cheer for his accomplishes no matter their size. It’s beautiful not only to watch a lead character with such a good performance (Keir Gilchrist) but also how wonderfully Sam is presented. Nothing about him is represented as lesser than any other character; his syndrome is merely a part of what makes Sam who he is. For this single reason alone you should watch this show.