by Alexander Udraufski-Osborne
I can’t believe it’s exam season already. It’s like I blinked and suddenly my housemates and I are up to our nostrils in revision! But, with stress and responsibilities inevitably comes procrastination, and what better way to distract yourself than Netflix.
Atypical is the answer to one question, ‘what does it mean to be normal?’. The show follows Sam, played by Keir Gilchrist (It follows), who is a teenager with autism, and has recently decided to find love. He must embark on a journey of self-discovery, of sorts, while the rest of his family must grapple with change in their own lives.
The eight-episode series centres around, what most would call, ‘normal’ teenage experiences such as getting a girlfriend, interactions with uppity popular kids and, underneath it all, the desire to fit in. With this, the show’s main comedy comes from how ‘abnormal’ the central character is. That being said, the show is definitely filled with plenty of compassion for Sam and his struggles; it tries to give the audience a sense of what his everyday experiences are like. From demonstrating how clothes with too many zippers and textures overwhelm his senses, to the distorting of audio and visuals emphasising the heart-breaking struggle that Sam endures.
Even though the show is firmly centred on Sam and his plight, you may find yourself, like I did, relating more to other supporting characters around him. Like Sam’s scrappy sister, Casey, who is played by Brigette Lundy-Paine; she is going through what could be considered the exact same trials and tribulations that Sam is, minus the autism. This, and all the supporting narratives, greatly compliments the show by highlighting that all teenagers go through similar struggles.
Atypical is simple yet unique, in the way it tells it’s coming of age story. This is one of the reasons why, for me, it is better than the most recent hit Edge of Seventeen. Like The Edge of Seventeen, Atypical utilises a good soundtrack. Featuring music from the likes of alt-J, you wouldn’t be criticised for listening to it as a ‘standalone’ playlist on Spotify.
Atypical is a typical Netflix series that manages to hit a good balance between being entertaining, ground-breaking and, despite its heavy themes, an easy watch.
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