Atypical is a coming of age dark comedy made for Netflix that was released on August 11, 2017. It has got some attention, both positive and negative, for its portrayal of a boy with autism. A few other TV shows have featured characters with autism, such as Skins and Degrassi The Next Generation. Waterloo Road even had a rare portrayal of a girl on the autistic spectrum.
Can you think of any other shows with autistic characters, and if so, did you think their portrayal was positive?
Poster for Atypical, Netflix, via Wikipedia. Fair use.
One I missed before was Sesame Street- there is an autistic muppet called Julia. She seems to have gotten a bit of a mixed response from the Autistic community. Some were upset that they didn't get an autistic actor to voice the character or an autistic writer to work on her scenes. From the little I've seen of her appearances I quite liked her. In particular, I liked one part where one of the adults said to Big Bird "Julia has autism." Big Bird asked what that meant and the adult responded "well, for her it means..." I thought it was cool that they were showing that not all autistic people were the same.
While they've never actually said on the show that she was autistic, the character, Bones (aka Temperence Brennan) on the Show Bones always struck me as behaving like someone on the autistic spectrum and apparently I'm not alone in thinking that. It's a pretty positive portrayal, as was the one on Waterloo Road, and challenges the assumption a lot of people still have that autism only affects boys and men.
I honestly don't take special note of characters on the spectrum, at least not any more than any other character.
One show that sticks out for me is Alphas, which was a low-budget Canadian-made sci-fi. Alphas ran for 2 seasons and was absolutely excellent storytelling. One of the main characters was Gary Bell, played by Ryan Cartwright. Gary was high functioning autistic with the power to interpret TV signals, cell phone signals, Wi-Fi frequencies, and the like. He was a cool character on an excellent show. I would have loved to see more seasons of Alphas. Gary was a favourite character, and I loved the way he was portrayed.