Television Autistics

Parenthood (2010 TV series)
Parenthood (2010 TV series) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Television now includes a surprising number of autistic and possibly autistic characters. We've already had shows with autistics (The Bridge, Touched, Alphas, Elementary, Parenthood, and more). There seem to be more, now, or maybe that's merely my perception.

I am not impressed with this trend. As with the novel and play, __Curious Incident__, the characters seem like a collection of assumptions about autism. Not horrible, but too reliant on shallow understandings of atypical neurologies and savant personalities.

An expert consultant? A specialist? Maybe even an autistic person offering some opinions regarding scripts or even on set. But, generally, the characters feel superficial.

Atypical is just bland and lousy, with or without the geeky boy in search of sex (or love). I simply don't like the characters. If it weren't pitched as a show about autism, maybe it wouldn't be streaming.

The Good Doctor tries. It gets a lot of how I think "correct" for me, but it also feels like the character is too infantile and naive for someone already through part of graduate school. The main character had to pass through college, somehow. I'm waiting to see how, because the problems he has in a hospital would have been horrible for any student at a university. The medical stuff, like House, is interesting. I don't find myself caring about the characters. (Then again, Shore should have made House more sympathetic over the last two seasons, too.)

Young Sheldon is good. I like it a lot. I dislike Big Bang Theory (intensely) but Young Sheldon feels familiar and doesn't mock the main character - the show has some level of empathy and even sympathy for the main character. But, the show is an outlier. I also liked The Bridge, which was relatable for me.

That I relate to the characters does not make them "good" autistic characters. They also remain something of a gimmick, and I don't know that being used as a gimmick is okay.

Autistics are not one thing, and we shouldn't be scary or jokes or props for other characters.

I'm not that passionate about most thing in advocacy. Maybe I'm not passionate about this. Overall, it just sort of annoys and confuses me.

I've been asked why I don't write an autistic character. I'm not sure I could do so in a way that's fair or accurate or insightful. If there's a reason for an autistic character, it had better be a good one. Otherwise, I simply want to write interesting stories. I'm not sure television networks know what a good story is.


  1. One of my favourite portrayals of an #actuallyautistic character is Jessica in THE LANGUAGE OF OTHERS.

    It would make a good movie or TV series.

    It also has multigenerational input because of her son Joel, and if you look around her brothers and sisters.

    It has a treasure theme.

    Autistics Speaking Day is pretty soon and so is Autistic History Month.


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