Autism: TV Makes Strides in New Programming
Hollywood doesn’t have a long history of creating movies and TV shows that center around characters with autism. While there have been films over the years that began to explore the condition and present it to wider audiences, it’s a subject that is still often ignored.
Representing all kinds of different people in the media is a significant need, because it paints a more realistic picture of the world. Some writers and producers are working to create more stories that explore the lives of people with autism. These attempts are extremely important, not only to the autistic community, but also to the wider community, which may not understand what the condition entails. While several recent attempts may have good intentions, displaying autism in an accurate and positive light can still be a challenge.
It’s important to represent all different kinds of people in the media because it shows a more realistic view of the world. In order to explore the lives of people with autism, writers and producers are creating more stories concerning their condition. These attempts are beneficial to the community as a whole as well as autistic individuals. However, it can be quite challenging to display autism in an accurate and positive light.
The creation of elaborate television shows has become increasingly easy thanks to the progression of technology. In order to create and air fewer mainstream projects, producers are looking outside the traditional networks. This has given way to new TV shows that center around characters dealing with autism. The everyday lives of such individuals are explored in two new shows, “Atypical” and “The Good Doctor.”
The drama of the show “Atypical” revolves around the story of Sam, an 18-year-old high school student who has autism. The plot points in the show are about trying to fit in, looking for love, and the dynamics of being a high schooler in modern culture, all of which are seen through Sam’s autistic lens.
This show is important for several key reasons. A person’s high school years can be both formative and incredibly difficult. For those trying to navigate this transitional time, the show can help them make better sense of the world. Teenagers can relate to Sam as they watch his struggles and triumphs. Viewers who are neurotypical can gain insight into this condition that often is difficult to understand, and they can develop a sense of empathy for people who are different from them. In recent years, conditions like autism have been increasing, and the audience for this and other similar shows is certain to grow.
To develop the show, Robia Rashid contacted many people with autism, along with their family members and caregivers, but overall, there is not much involvement from the autistic community. The creator has not gotten the content quite right since the show is still written and portrayed by neurotypical individuals. So, some parts of the show may not feel perfectly right and may send a different message altogether.
“The Good Doctor”
This show is more dramatic, and the hero is Shawn Murphy, who has autism as well as savant syndrome, which allows him to be an exceptional doctor. He is hired on by a hospital because he is a capable and gifted doctor, despite his abnormal condition. One of the show’s messages is that even though a person is autistic, their employment should not be hindered because of their condition. While in a normal work setting it is positive to see the portrayal of autistic individuals, this show, too, has faced many problems.
According to critics, when autism is combined with savant syndrome, the dynamic changes drastically, as the savant syndrome gives Shawn his incredible intelligence, so people may think this is what makes Murphy valuable; the idea then that, regardless of abilities, people are still capable becomes suppressed to a certain extent.
It remains to be seen how well autism can be portrayed on these shows and how effectively they’ll encourage understanding and empathy for this condition, rather than using it as a plot device or simply making fun of it.