Atypical Review: Witty, Endearing, and Heartbreaking

If you have not yet watched  Atypical on Netflix, do it NOW.  It’s hilarious, witty, endearing, thought provoking, and sometimes heartbreaking.  Atypical is about a family raising their autistic son and HIS/their daily challenges and triumphs with life.  I loved watching it, and  I’m so glad I stumbled upon it, one rainy Saturday afternoon.  I think this show is best viewed two or three episodes at a time; they are all 30 minutes long, some are actually 32 (both season finales).

I want to quickly talk about the cast. Lets start with Sam, whose journey the show is based around.  Sam is on the Autism spectrum; he is high functioning and attends public high school where he is a senior.  Sam regularly sees his therapist Julia, who helps him navigate life and adjust to the changes he’s experiencing while becoming more independent from his family.  Casey, Sam’s younger sister, is a Sophmore at the same high school, and a track and field star.  Jennifer Jason Leigh and Michael Rappaport play Sam’s sometimes over protective parents, Elsa and Doug. I have to say it was great seeing Jennifer Jason Leigh again, I feel like she hasn’t been around since Single White Female came out.. Right? Also Michael Rappaport is totally a dad, I loved him. Evan plays Casey’s introspective boyfriend who bonds with Sam. Rounding out the cast is Sam’s best friend Zahid who works at “Techtropolis” with Sam. Zahid means well but his advice to Sam is usually always wrong and misguided. Like the time he takes Sam to a strip club so he can see real boobs. Then there was that time with the chocolate covered strawberries and “bone town,” I won’t elaborate any more but it goes horribly wrong. Finally there’s Sam’s on again, off again girlfriend Paige, who is both sweet and crazy, sorta like a sour patch kid.

This cast is really AHmazing! They all have great chemistry and they play off of each other very well. The dialogue seems to come from a real place and the quips come quickly and effortlessly.  I also appreciated that Sam interweaves the prologue of each episode with facts about penguins (his favorite animal) or nature in general, it really works and it’s done well. Most of the episodes are told from Sam’s POV and you get a sense of what the world is like for him, you cheer for his achievements and empathize with his setbacks.  Mainly you just want Sam and his family to succeed; they all seemed like people I know, which made the show all the more real for me.  Atypical, also shines a light on Autism awareness and how the diagnoses of Autism, can impact families. In Sam’s world We, (people without Autism) are called Neurotypicals and he is,  Atypical.

Season one’s larger focus is on Sam exploring his independence and wanting to date after having a conversation with his therapist Julia. Much to his sister Casey’s amusement and his parents’ dismay, Sam sets out to find a “practice girlfriend” because he is secretly in love with his therapist. Meanwhile Sam’s mother Elsa starts to feel like her family doesn’t need her anymore and that she has no identity other than being a wife and mother, so she enters into an affair with a much younger bartender. Spoiler: it doesn’t end well.  Casey finds out about the affair and the rift already between them grows larger. Meanwhile, Casey gets more serious with her boyfriend Evan as she’s admits she’s in love. Season 2 explores Casey’s journey more as she gets accepted into a prestigious private high school on a track scholarship. Away from Sam she has to navigate her own path, not just his. Elsa moves out, after her family learns of her affair and she spends most of season 2 trying to get back in their good graces.

Sam decides he should attend college after graduation and sets out to find the perfect school that will play to his strengths. A lot can happen in a year, especially your senior year of high school. Season 2 ends on a high note, full of possibilities for Sam and his family. “To be independent, you need to know what to do when things go wrong because you can’t expect someone to fix it for you. You need to know how to do it yourself even if you really, really, really, really don’t want to.” ~Sam Gardner

Atypical is streaming now, on Netflix, seasons 1 & 2. Log on and watch it, then leave your comments down below or hit me up on Twitter.

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