Atypical 2017

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Atypical (2017)

review & opinion

season 2

Atypical is a Netflix Original series, produced by Exhibit A. There are 18 episodes over 2 seasons.  Each episode is around 30 minutes in length.


The spoken language is English, and Netflix offers dubbing and/or subtitles in several other languages. There may be more language options available in your area.


Atypical is rated TV-MA.  This series contains coarse language and mature situations.


Atypical, in short, is the story of Sam, an autistic high-school senior, and his dysfuncional family, coping with life on the spectrum.

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Elsa & Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner in season 2 of Atypical

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Elsa & Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner in season 2 of Atypical. (Source: Beth Dubber/Netflix)

the opinion:

Atypical’s first season had a bit of a rough-ride. Some called the show “offensive”, others thought Atypical wasn’t atypical at all of a story about a boy and his family coping with autism.


To those: relax.


I’m not entirely sure how medically accurate the show is, and to be honest, I don’t really care. Neither should you.


Atypical isn’t a documentary. This is a fictional TV series about a fictional character and his fictional (and dysfunctional) family. The operative word here, if you haven’t guessed it by now, is “fictional.”


Certainly, when scriptwriters get together and begin the creative (and extremely difficult) process of writing a series, they do have a responsibility to be accurate when it comes to the non-fictional stuff.


There is a fine balance between entertaining and informing without boring.

the disorder that's entertaining?

Jennifer Jason Leigh as Elsa, Michael Rapaport as Doug Gardner, Brigette Lundy-Paine as Casey Gardner & Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner in season 2 of Atypical.

"I'm not an egg!" Who says autism can't be fun to write about? Brigette Lundy-Paine as Casey Gardner & Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner in season 2 of Atypical. (Source: Beth Dubber/Netflix)

The underlying theme of Atypical is autism. Talk about a snooze-fest, right? It doesn't have all the "glitz and glamor" that comes with other mental disorders like schizophrenia or PTSD. Autism is obessive, compulsive, repetitive, rude, don’t-touch-me-or-else blah-blah-blah boringness. Where’s the fun in that?


Autism lies along a spectrum. At one end, is the most severe case: “Inflexibility of behavior, extreme difficulty coping with change, or other restricted/repetitive behaviors markedly interfere with functioning in all spheres. Great distress/difficulty changing focus or action,” according to the DSM-5 (Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).


At the other end of the spectrum, not as severe. “Inflexibility of behavior causes significant interference with functioning in one or more contexts. Difficulty switching between activities. Problems of organization and planning hamper independence.”

so what i'm saying, is this...

It may not seem like it with my brief “cut-and-paste” descriptions, but this is a w-i-d-e spectrum and, honestly, not exciting subject matter when it comes to entertaining the viewer. So, writing a series about a boy named Sam who suffers with the disorder is a tall order to fill. The writers have to keep the facts in-check, while at the same time making the series watchable; aka: entertaining.


Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner with his autism support group in season 2 of Atypical

Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner with his autism support group (played by autistic actors) in season 2 of Atypical. (Source: Beth Dubber/Netflix)

When you watch those “based on a true story” movies, do you believe you’re watching everything exactly how it happened? You’re not. Real life isn’t as sexy as it is on screen, no matter how “true” the story claims to be.


Atypical, though not based on a true story, isn’t entirely fictional, either. There is balance and Atypical does get some things right in its portrayal of coping with autism. Also, something I consider to be a rather bold, but absolutely brilliant move, is the introduction of 8 new characters to the Atypical cast - all of whom are on the spectrum. Bravo to that.


VIDEO: meet Sam's support group!


Atypical is not perfect, sure. Like life itself, there are good things and some not-so-good things you may come across. But it’s entertaining and enjoyable to watch. It’s neither offensive, nor inaccurate. It’s thought-provoking and even funny!


You'll probably enjoy it, because, above all else, it is entertaining. - Nick Runyeard

series & technical details


streaming on Netflix / renewed for season 3 (2019)


comedy / drama








approx. 25 to 35 mins /episode


261 binge minutes (se.1) / 297 binge minutes (se.2)


16:9 HD (se.1-2)


Dolby Digital


English (various subtitle languages also available)





business details


Exhibit A / Sony Pictures Television




11 Aug. 2017 (se.1) / 7 Sep. 2018 (se.2)



worth noting


 Nominated, Satellite Award, Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical

Atypical logo

Atypical stars Jennifer Jason Leigh; Keir Gilchrist; Brigette Lundy-Paine; Michael Rapaport; Amy Okuda, Nik Dodani; Jenna Boyd; Raúl Castillo; Nina Ameri; Fivel Stewart; Ariela Barer; Graham Phillips; Michelle Farrah Huang; Rachel Redleaf; Christina Offley; Angel Laketa Moore; Wendy Braun; Kevin Daniels; Casey Wilson, and more!

About the Author

I used to be the guy who did that thing on the show you never heard of. Now I'm Head Nincompoop here, writing about binge-watching.


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