Wednesday, August 23, 2017 by Ethan Huff
With the autism rate now at one in 68 children and growing, the entertainment industry is writing more and more autistic characters into movies and television shows to better relate to its viewing audience. But a new Netflix “dramedy” reportedly crosses the line in this regard, allegedly portraying an autistic young man using mocking stereotypes meant to garner cheap laughs from viewers.
The controversial show is called “Atypical,” and it features an individual named Sam who’s portrayed as a coming-of-age boy experiencing the many pains and trials associated with growing up autistic. It’s one of several new shows featuring autistic leads, including a similar one that airs on HBO. Disability advocates have been supportive of the concept, but its implementation is causing some serious backlash.
One leading autism researcher told the Daily Mail Online that she’s sympathetic to the show for being “brave enough” to start this type of dialogue, adding that it’s “essentially impossible” to portray autism in one way or another without receiving criticism from someone.
But not everyone feels this way, including Mickey Rowe, star of “The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime.” Rowe, who is autistic himself and was one of the first ever autistic actors to play an autistic role, describes the show as being “flawed.” While he was happy that the show’s writers sought input from one of the nation’s top autism research centers, he feels as though the script for “Atypical” draws from stereotypes that could come across as offensive to some people.
One example is a scene in which Sam is seen repeatedly yelling out a vulgar slang word while telling his therapist that he can see her purple bra. This type of outburst, which is common among more extreme autistic cases, is something that deserves to be treated with more respect, in Rowe’s view, not as a cheap shot for a quick laugh.
“As he does each of these things, it feels like the audience is supposed to laugh at how weird and different Sam is,” Rowe reportedly told Teen Vogue during an in-depth interview about the show, referring to Sam’s character in “Atypical.” “This is the crux of Atypical’s comedy, but there’s nothing that funny about turning someone’s disability into a punchline.”
What’s perhaps even more offensive is the fact that the show avoids any discussion of what independent science (and company package inserts, for that matter) increasingly suggests is a major cause of autism today: Mercury and other chemicals in vaccines. If “Atypical” really wanted to help autistic people, it would at least bring up this important subject.
After all, there’s plenty of scientific data out there to suggest that toxic heavy metals like mercury, which are routinely added to childhood vaccines like the flu shot, are deeply damaging to the body.
It’s surprising that those offended by the way “Atypical” portrays its autistic character aren’t also offended by the show’s rejection of the vaccine-autism link. How can society ever effectively address, the growing problem of autism without learning the facts about what contributes to its development, which includes the chemical adjuvants added to vaccines?
The reason is that telling the truth about institutional golden calves like vaccines is far more offensive and controversial than simply making fun of autistic people for a cheap laugh. People would actually lose their jobs if they even made the suggestion in mainstream entertainment that a vaccine could ever harm a person and cause him or her to develop a brain abnormality that shows symptoms congruent with autism – and we all know that money is more important than the truth to these people.
Sources for this article include: