Atypical explores the life of an autistic teenage boy named Sam, and the effects that his autism has on his family and social life. In its second season, the Netflix original series broadens its horizons outside of his autism to include other issues within his family dynamic.
In the previous season, Sam’s mother Elsa had an affair. This season explores the downfall of her marriage to Sam’s father, Doug and the effects of this on Sam’s mental well-being. The show expertly and captivatingly demonstrates how the family dynamic shifts and how Sam is able to cope without his mother around. This breakdown in the marriage also improves Sam’s relationship with his father, who encourages him to stray from the plans that his mother made to keep him safe from external dangers.
The show touches on what are considered to be challenging topics of social conversation, namely what it is like to live with autism. When prompted to write about the trials and triumphs of living with autism for a college essay, Sam replies that he does not think that living with autism is an achievement, it was something that he was born with. It is construed as almost condescending that Sam’s teacher would assume his biggest achievement is living with autism when in actuality it is a subjective experience. It highlights that there is more to his life than his disability.
At another point in the season, Sam is criticised by his sister Casey for “making everything about him”. When dealing with topic of disability this is a crucial emotion to address and the show does so realistically. Living in a house with a loved one who has a disability can be very difficult and the show is aware of this.
Casey, Sam’s sister, has been a fan favourite and will continue to be after this season. Casey starts at a new school, battling toxic friendships, loneliness and at the end of the season is left questioning both her sexuality and her relationship with Evan. However, after her outburst about Sam’s disability, it is shown that Casey is a relatable character, especially for someone who is just 16 years old.
Atypical as a show induces various emotions on its audience. At one point, Sam was arrested whilst having an episode. For the audience this is infuriating and upsetting to watch. However, the show tackles this emotional issue with grace; a new training program for police officers is established to recognise the signs of someone with autism. Perhaps Atypical is making a statement on what skills should be learned in real life scenarios.
All in all, the second season of Atypical is simultaneously highly-educational and heartwarming to watch, that it leaves its audience smiling from ear to ear.
Image: Netflix via Wikimedia Commons