Penguin Cam and Chill
Little Dude and the Lion
Pants On Fire
The Egg Is Pipping
In The Dragon’s Lair
Living At An Angle
Earnest Shackleton’s Rules For Survival
Atypical was one of our favourite shows released last year and it’s easy to see why. A cleverly written mix of charm, comedy and drama all wrapped up in a realistically depicted family unit living with an autistic child was something that really stood out from the pack of dramedies last year. Atypical’s second season focuses much more on its supporting characters this time around, giving each a compelling arc to match the excellent done with Sam while maintaining the same spirit and charm that made the first season so appealing.
The story picks up a short time after the end of the first season with Sam’s (Keir Gilchrist) world turned upside down. Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Doug (Michael Rapaport) have split, living separately following the affair that’s torn their marriage apart. This causes a huge divide in the family with Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) lashing out at her Mum while struggling to juggle life at Clayton Prep with her relationship with Evan (Graham Rogers). Julia (Amy Okuda) struggles to find her place away from counselling Sam with the thought of being a mother weighing heavily over her for much of the season’s run time. All of these subplots gravitate around Sam who continues to be as charming and comedically tragic as he was in the first season, leaning on best friend Zahid (Nik Dodani) for moral support and hilarious life advice.
One of the best parts of Atypical’s first season was just how grounded in reality the show remained, depicting a family unit living with autism astonishingly well while blending comedy and drama to perfection; the timing of jokes and melodramatic plot points combined to make the show such a unique proposition and one of the biggest surprises to hit the streaming platform last year. While the second season does take a few episodes to really nail this balance again, leaning very heavily into drama early on, once it does Atypical proves just why it’s one Netflix’s best original series of late.
While the second season may not have as many laughs as the first, it’s arguably the stronger of the two seasons, especially when it comes to its characters. Casey’s continued struggles to fit in at Clayton Prep echoes life at college with some bold, interesting choices for her character late on that’s sure to divide opinion. Alongside this, Elsa and Doug’s fractured relationship paints a brutally honest picture of a family struggling to hold it all together for their kids with the future unclear around whether they’ll ever be able to get back together or not. Sam remains the focal point though and his arc progresses from dealing with the aftermath of the family changes through to thinking about college and relationships, ending on a triumphant, defining moment for his character in the finale.
With all these character-driven plots progressing and becoming more entangled and messy as the show goes on, Atypical never loses sight of what made the show so appealing to begin with – its mix of comedy and drama. Much like the first season, there are some genuine laugh out loud moments here and these are peppered throughout the series’ 10 episodes to great effect.
If you fell in love with Atypical’s first season, you surely won’t be disappointed with the second. The characters are really well written, fleshed out with compelling, believable arcs converging to a finale that ends on another painstaking cliffhanger. Whether this one will return for a third season is still up for debate but based on the excellent work done here, it’ll be a real shame to see this one end so prematurely.