Watch the Trailer for 'Atypical,' Netflix's New Comedy Series About Autism
Netflix’s newest original series about autism, “Atypical,” doesn’t premiere for another month, but you can catch the show’s official trailer on The Mighty. The eight-episode comedic series follows Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), a high school senior on the autism spectrum, and his family as he navigates dating, school and being a teenager. The show also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rapaport as Sam’s parents.
“We’ve seen the search for love from a neurotypical perspective but not from a point of view like Sam’s,” Robia Rashid, the show’s creator and executive producer, told The Mighty. “I liked the idea of telling a familiar story — the search for those things — from a different perspective, from a voice that’s not often heard.”
According to Rashid, a lot of research went into creating the show. During the initial writing stage, Rashid read books, listened to podcasts, read blogs and talked to people on the spectrum. “There’s someone close to me who is on the spectrum, so I had personal experience to draw from,” she added. “Because of that I, felt like if I was going to write this show, I had to do it very thoughtfully and — to the best of my ability — get it right.”
Leading actor Gilchrist is not on the spectrum, but Anthony Jacques, who plays Sam’s friend Christopher, is. The show also worked with the College Internship Program (CIP), a transition program that helps autistic people find jobs and internships, as well as The Miracle Project, which helps those on the spectrum build communication and social skills through theater.
“We did our best as a show to have people in the autism community involved,” Rashid. “We have several crew members who are parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We had an autism researcher and expert on staff who read every outline and script and watched every cut to give notes. It’s something we feel very strongly about and are always working on.”
Beyond having a main character on the autism spectrum, “Atypical” is a story about “not being normal,” a theme Rashid said she personally relates to. “Yes, our main character has ASD and that obviously informs his experience. But the things he’s dealing with are things everyone cares about,” she said. “That’s an important distinction to me because I think it’s easy to discount someone’s story if you think you can’t possibly relate to them.”
“Atypical” also tries to capture the experience of parenting a child on the spectrum. Alienation is a common theme of the show, Rashid said, explaining that Sam feels alienated to the point it is almost ingrained in him. It is also something Sam’s family, parents and sister (Brigette Lundy-Paine), feel.
“[Autism] can be very alienating, both as a person with ASD and a family member,” Rashid noted. “On a larger level, these are both groups that have been somewhat ignored in media as well. Further alienated. So I hope viewers find someone relatable in the Gardner family or in the ‘Atypical’ world. Someone to make them feel less alone, less like a ‘weirdo.’”
All episodes of “Atypical” will be available on Netflix starting August 11.