Parents' Guide to

Atypical

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Laughs, heart, in excellent series about teen with autism.

TV Netflix Drama 2017
Atypical Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 22 parent reviews

age 10+

Very enjoyable and thoughtful as well as hilarious

This is about the struggles and triumphs of Sam, who is on the Autism spectrum, but also about his sister, Casey, who sometimes protects him but likes to tease and torture him. The show deals with Sam's unique difficulties but also his family's. The parents have not dealt with his autism well (the father abandoned them for several months and the mother has an affair). They do not fit into the "normal" social circle of other parents, which feels real, since Michael Rapaport as the father is just unlikable, as is Jennifer Jason Leigh, whose performance is far too manic. Sam also has trouble fitting in at school. His best friend, Zahid, is also like a Yoda, who tells him how to handle everything from dating to learning how to lie on his college application (Sam is very literal and usually doesn't lie). Some parents might find Zahid's frequent sex talk off-putting or even immoral but I can't imagine that many kids will! They hear it every day. Sam has a good therapist, Julia, but things go awry when he tells her he loves her and she yells at him, causing a breakdown. Sister Casey also has challenges: she must decide whether to go to a private school and is tormented by her track teammates since she is their best runner. She is torn as well between supportive boyfriend, Evan and her new and often nasty love interest, Izzie. The latter is having lots of difficulty coming out as a Lesbian and often takes out her frustration on Casey. this feels like a very realistic portrayal of some teens' experience. Actually, this show would be even better if the young people were left to their own devices!
age 16+

Really good but tons of sex references

The show that revolves around sexual desires and situations, with plenty of crass/mysogenistic/rude sexual content. I don't understand why Common Sense rates this 13+. Having said that I agree that the positive messages and characters are really worth watching - just for a much older age group that will understand the humour and the nature of the sexual depictions.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (22 ):
Kids say (95 ):

Viewers will fall in love with Sam in the first few moments of this heartfelt show, and sympathize with his relatable plight: We all want love; some aren't so great at finding it. Sam just happens to be a bit outside the norm when it comes to reading social cues (not to mention overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of the world he doesn't easily fit into). "People on the spectrum date," says his sympathetic (if a bit clueless) therapist Julia (Amy Okuda). "You just have to put yourself out there." "Out where?" wonders the literal Sam, who returns home and immediately starts writing an online dating profile, with the help of his sister. "I spend a lot of time thinking about..." she prompts him for the questionnaire. "Penguins!" he answers truthfully. "Let's say 'sports,'" says Casey. Their mom Elsa, passing by, asks what they're doing. "Casey's helping me sign up for online dating, but she doesn't like my answer so she's just lying," says the honest-even-when-it's-uncomfortable Sam.

Elsa herself, who has Atypical's B story in the first season, is a little harder to relate to. Exhausted after years of advocating for her son, she's both cautious (pointing out that dating is all about nonverbal communication, not Sam's strong suit), fearful (she worries that a broken heart is in Sam's future), and bitter. It's that last emotion that may be her undoing, as she finds distraction in a flirtation with a friendly bartender who values his freedom above all else -- and who makes Elsa wonder what her life would be like if she were similarly free. Her storyline doesn't exactly make Elsa the most lovable mom. But viewers will want to see how everything turns out for her, and for her conflicted, frustrated son, who's weird compared to other people, it's true -- but equally lovable. As the show's seasons progress, Casey becomes a more prominent character, too, with her own limitations and struggles, some romantic, some not, while Sam moves from looking for love to dealing with it once he's found it, and Elsa and Doug grapple with marital issues.

TV Details

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