Skip to main content

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.


Post a Comment

Comments violating the policies of this blog will not be approved for posting. Language and content should be appropriate for all readers and maintain a polite tone. Thank you.

Popular posts from this blog

Autistic Burnout

Summer demands a lot of social energy, especially for parents. For autistics, the never-ending social calendar of summer can cause serious autistic burnout. Host C. S. Wyatt discusses his need to find a balance between social demands and self-care. Check out this episode!

Autism, Asperger's, and IQ

"Aren't people with Asperger's more likely to be geniuses? Isn't genius related to autism?" A university student asked this in a course I am teaching. The class discussion was covering neurological differences, free will, and the nature versus nurture debate. The textbook for the course includes sidebars on the brain and behavior throughout chapters on ethics and morality. This student was asking a question reflecting media portrayals of autism spectrum disorders, social skills difficulties, and genius. I did not address this question from a personal perspective in class, but I have when speaking to groups of parents, educators, and caregivers. Some of the reasons these questions arise, as mentioned above, are media portrayals and news coverage of autism. Examples include: Television shows with gifted characters either identified with or assumed to have autistic traits: Alphas, Big Bang Theory, Bones, Rizzoli and Isles, Touch, and others. Some would include

Free eBook on Autism and Relationships

This blog post is a bit unusual. I am testing to see if visitors can download a free eBook from this blog. I have linked to the file, which sits on our Web server. We have successfully tested the ePub edition of A Spectrum of Relationships . Only the abridged ePub edition is available for free at this time, not an Amazon Kindle edition, due to Amazon's policy requesting only full, commercial editions from small publishers. Until the text is revised and edited, I'm not comfortable publishing it formally. The commercial version will be released for the Amazon Kindle as well as other devices. In fact, it might be released first for the Kindle, if things go as planned. Downloading an ePub can be a challenge: some browsers try to open the file directly. To download the ePub, you might have to "right-click" and download the linked file. If you have the ePub extension installed, the FireFox browser will open the ePub correctly. A Spectrum of Relationships (ePub file) [