Monday, August 2

Atypical Television Season Four Review

TOTypical lives up to its name in more ways than one. The Netflix show It has the feel of an ordinary American sitcom, with episodes lasting half an hour, and traces the trials and tribulations of a nuclear family. However, as he has progressed through the seasons, he has gained emotional maturity and a new level of depth and warmth. It tells the story of Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), a teenager with autism who begins to explore what it might mean to be independent from his family, who are dealing with their own problems and trying to understand the world from their perspective.

He turns his many dishes with skill. This is its fourth and final season, and there have been adventures, breakups, out-of-the-closet stories, and lots of penguin talk. Now Sam has moved out of the family home and gone to live with his best friend Zahid, a stoner whose casual approach conflicts with some of Sam’s more rigid routines. Zahid forgets to pay the bills and likes to buy in bulk. At one point, he sits on a throne of toilet paper rolls, which would have been obscene in April 2020; In these well-stocked times, the toilet paper roll has once again been a hit.

Living with roommates is a life lesson that many young people must learn, whether they have autism or not; some of us still shudder to recall attempts to color-code a cleaning “rotation” that is quickly abandoned in a horror show of creaking pans and hair-blocked drains. In addition to figuring out how to peacefully coexist with Zahid, who develops more serious problems later in the series, Sam is trying to keep up with his college work, which is more difficult than he thought. These seemingly pedestrian concerns lead to intelligent meditations on ambition and accomplishment, which means discovering one’s purpose and how much to sacrifice to get there.

Elsewhere in the Gardner household, Sam’s sister, Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine), is now dating her best friend Izzie, and is trying to find out if she fits into the private school she attends on an athletic scholarship and as it does. Her ambition has always been to get an additional scholarship to a good university and, as one character puts it, she is “unbelievably fast”; the problem is that it is crumbling under the weight of everyone’s expectations. While her mother, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is delighted with this new relationship, Doug (Michael Rappaport) is less than in love with her and the drama she brings to his daughter’s life.

However, neither Doug nor Elsa are in a solid position to judge, as they are both still reeling from betrayals of some kind, be they recent or historical. This is where Atypical really excels. It reminds me of watching the drama My So-Called Life as a teenager in the 90s, and deciding that parenting stories were boring distractions, then revisiting the series as an adult and being in awe of how rich and moving those scenes were. adults. Here too there is shock in the parents’ lives and there are also dilemmas. Doug experiences shock and pain, but cannot talk about it, much as he could not cope with Sam’s needs as a young child. Izzie’s mother is a free spirit tarot reader who adores Casey but neglects her own daughter’s needs. Elsa is instinctively angry, but the show goes back to her own mother, who, in her old age, has become a model mother. There are almost always layers upon layers, and he’s deceptively clever.

While the show deals with important topics – it touches on cancer, death, disappointment, and dementia – it handles them gently and tenderly. Sam’s college friends, mostly played by actors with disabilities, provide much of the comic relief, and the decision to focus more on them this time is a smart one. Tal Anderson’s Sid, in particular, really stands out. Each episode asks its characters to learn something about themselves and the world, which they inevitably do, and the resolution is invariably healthy. On just about any other show, this seriousness would seem unbearable to me, but it says a lot about Atypical’s allure that it feels good and sweet, but never saccharine. I think it’s because he seems completely uncynical, and that lack of cynicism is rare and beautiful.

Not all stories hit the high notes, and there is a definite feeling, as the season progresses, that Atypical is coming to an end, having run its course and having said what it had to say. But it’s a beautiful show, celebrating difference, adaptability, and an open-hearted approach to life. In the sometimes stagnant world of half-hour sitcoms, it’s refreshing in itself.

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