ABC Show 'The Good Doctor' Tells the Story of a Doctor on the Autism Spectrum
ABC’s new show, “The Good Doctor,” set to premiere this fall, tells the story of Shaun Murphy, a young doctor on the autism spectrum, who has savant syndrome.
The show is based on a South Korean show of the same name and is described on IMDB as:
A young surgeon with Savant syndrome is recruited into the pediatric surgical unit of a prestigious hospital. The question will arise: can a person who doesn’t have the ability to relate to people actually save their lives?
Freddie Highmore plays Murphy, the show’s lead character. So far it does not appear as though any of the cast members are on the autism spectrum.
Speaking on a panel, the show’s executive producer, David Shore explained the steps the show took to portray autism. “We saw a lot of doctors, we consulted with people, we’ve got people on the spectrum who we’re working with,” Shore said, according to Deadline. “But he is a specific character, he’s not there to represent autism, he’s there to represent Dr. Shaun Murphy.”
Initial reactions to the show, so far, are mixed. While some people are thrilled that autism is getting more recognition, others say the show promotes dangerous stereotypes about people on the spectrum.
“I’m thrilled to know that there’s finally a character on television who functions like I do. It means the world to be seeing media presence take note of those of us with perceived impediments that actually strengthen and aid in our development,” one commenter wrote on the show’s Facebook page. “I hold three licenses in the Medical field and am seeking my Bachelor’s in Science for Emergency Medicine. Being diagnosed with Autism or Asperger’s isn’t a death sentence. It’s a blessing.”
i hope the good doctor really talks about autism because i have autism and i really feel good about freddie playing an autistic person
— kacie ☼ (@insidefarmiga) May 12, 2017
This reinforces the #autismstereotype & devalues #autistic lives & capabilities. https://t.co/bxZwVCjx4B
— 9 Tea Cups (@9teacups) May 17, 2017
@9teacups @MargoComeau @EDalmayne I’m always concerned about this sort of Rainman representation. We know how large the spectrum is, and I’d like the gen public to know too.
— Jinia P. (@meanwhilefl) May 18, 2017
This is not ABC’s first disability-oriented show. Last year, ABC introduced “Speechless,” a 30-minute comedy about a family with a teenage son who has cerebral palsy. The show stars Micah Fowler, an actor with cerebral palsy, as the main character. On May 12, it was announced “Speechless” will return for a second season.
“The Good Doctor” premieres Monday, September 25, at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.