Magical Bird #1
Master of Penguins
You Say You Want a Revolution
Starters and Endings
Are You in Fair Health?
Magical Bird #2
Dessert at Olive Garden
Some shows massively outstay their welcome. Grey’s Anatomy has been on life support for a few season now. The Walking Dead continues to shuffle its lifeless corpse across AMC while even Buffy – for all of its amazing episodes – should have probably ended after season 5.
On the other side of the spectrum are shows like Atypical. Despite running for four seasons, this conclusive and perfectly open ending feels like a premature departure from the streaming platform. This perfect blend of comedy and drama never failed to deliver across its previous three seasons – and that much is still true here during this final chapter.
There’s a strange juxtaposition of ideas this time around though, with constant references of new beginnings feeling tonally at odds with Atypical’s cancellation, forcing the show to hastily wrap up loose ends. For the most part though the series does well with its ideas, with much less emphasis on Sam’s autistic quirks and more on the family dynamic and lessons learned through trial and error.
Early on, the main drama of the season revolves around Casey and Izzie’s relationship, with the former worried about how her Father will take the news of them being together.
From here, the couple have their ups and downs, with a particularly excellent chapter (episode 8) changing the perspective to Casey as she narrates her hopes, dreams and fears regarding the future and her life as a whole. It’s a really nice touch, one that breaks up Sam’s constant penguin references for a slightly different flavour.
It’s also great to see Casey and Izzie’s relationship explored in a compelling and realistic way, with the two naturally exuding chemistry together rather than including their romance as a shoehorned way of ticking boxes.
The supporting players each have their own storylines here too, with Paige conflicted at work and struggling to assert herself. By season’s end her character has come a long way and that’s clear in both her personal and professional decisions. For spoiler purposes I won’t disclose that here but suffice to say there are a few real tear-jerking moments involving her in the finale.
Likewise, Sam’s best friend Zahid has his own arc too. After Sam and Zahid move in together early on – experiencing all the highs and lows that comes with that – a visit to the doctor’s looks set to change everything. Given Zahid’s reliance on being the comedy anchor of the show, giving him a more serious subplot is certainly a welcome change of pace.
However, the focal point here is Sam. He’s the one who drives the series forward and early on he makes the decision to travel off to Antarctica. Sam’s family and friends have mixed feelings toward this – especially Paige who makes her feelings felt very openly and publicly.
The only character who ultimately suffers is Elsa. For me, she just doesn’t have enough of an arc this season and a lot of her drama revolves around the same tried and tested tropes we’ve seen before of her overstepping boundaries with the kids. It’s not a deal breaker but it is a little disappointing that her persona isn’t expanded upon a little further than this.
Thankfully though, Atypical remains anything but typical. In an age of superhero flicks, agenda ticking and watered down remakes, sequels and spin-offs, Atypical has been a breath of fresh air. It’s just a shame that this drama has come to an end.