A Human Female
A Nice Neutral Smell
That’s My Sweatshirt
The D-Train To Bone Town
I Lost My Poor Meatball
The Silencing Properties Of Snow
Funny, thought provocative and brutally realistic, Atypical tells the story of a family living with their autistic son and the challenges each of them face. Narrated by their son Sam (Keir Gilchrist) through the majority of the show’s episodes, Atypical’s script is funny and filled with well handled sub plots. The way the show dissects each family member, exploring how they cope with Sam’s condition and the impact it has on their life really helps to sets this comedy apart.
Atypical’s first season begins with 18 year old Sam journeying into the world of dating and explores the ups and downs of this while his family juggle the responsibility of caring for Sam. Whilst the season predominantly revolves around him and his autism, its as much about the family members and the people that surround him too. This fascinating glimpse into the family life and strained relationships between characters because of Sam’s condition helps makes Atypical every bit a drama as it does a comedy.
Ultimately, this finely crafted balance between comedy and drama is really what sets Atypical apart, especially with such an honest examination of autism. The narration, mannerisms and general character of Sam is played so well by Keir Gilchrist that it makes the discussion around whether an autistic actor should have played the role pointless. If anything, Sam is such an anchor to the whole show that some of the scenes actually suffer when he isn’t present. The script allows for some great challenges and exchanges regarding the condition, juggling between comedy and drama in equal doses. Its hard to fault Atypical, especially with such a taboo subject being featured and it so easily could have come across as contrived or poorly managed. Thankfully, this isn’t the case and the material is handled with enough nuance and flair to make the show a blast from start to finish.
Its a shame that the show ends on such a cliffhanger as without confirmation of a second season, it does leave questions about the long term plans of the show. The 8 episodes that are on offer here manage to develop each of the characters. Whether it be Sam’s quirky friends offering hilarious tidbits of dating advice or his sister who’s growing realisation that Sam doesn’t need her help as much any more, each of the characters are given enough screen time and their own sub plots to really help with fleshing their characters out and showing the impact Sam has on their lives.
Despite its short length and 30 minute run time per episode, there’s a lot packed into the show. Its hard to put into words just how good Atypical is. Almost every scene is deliberately placed to move the plot forward whilst exploring each of the characters and the way they cope with Sam’s condition and try to live their lives. Its not perfect, some of the scenes do suffer without Sam’s charismatic presence but Atypical’s blend of comedy and drama in a smartly written script certainly makes it close to achieving that level of excellence.