Healthy Living

Autism: TV Makes Strides in New Programming

The Good Doctor

Another show centered around an autistic character that debuted this fall is “The Good Doctor.” Unlike “Atypical,” “The Good Doctor” was actually picked up by ABC, a major, traditional television network. Just the fact that ABC was willing to air a show about a character with autism may represent a more open attitude towards these narratives in and of itself. ABC’s choice to air “The Good Doctor” reflects an understanding about audience receptiveness so that choice in itself is something to celebrate.

“The Good Doctor” is notedly more dramatic than “Atypical.” Whereas Rashid was working to create a coming of age story in a familiar and relatable setting, “The Good Doctor” follows more in line with high dramas like creator David Shore’s former project, “House.” In the show, the hero Shawn Murphy is a doctor that has autism and savant syndrome. Through an impassioned plea by Richard Schiff at the beginning of the show, Murphy is hired on by a hospital against the better judgement of the board. The argument for hiring Murphy is that despite his abnormal condition, he’s still a capable and gifted doctor that could do a lot of good for patients. One of the messages of the show that is espoused by the characters and shared by the creator is the belief that people with autism shouldn’t be hindered from employment simply because they’re autistic. While it’s positive to see the portrayal of autistic individuals in a normal work setting, “The Good Doctor” isn’t without its share of problems either.