Netflix’s new comedy, Atypical, now has a release date and its first clip. The show stars United States of Tara alum Keir Gilchrist as Sam, an autistic 18-year-old who decides it’s time to go on a date, find a girlfriend, and hopefully gain some independence. In turn, his entire family must grapple with change in their own lives as they all struggle to answer one central question: What does it really mean to be “normal”?
Jennifer Jason Leigh (Single White Female, The Hateful Eight) plays Sam’s mother, Elsa, while Michael Rapaport (Prison Break) portrays his father, Doug, who wants to better connect with and understand his son. Newcomer Brigette Lundy-Paine also appears as Sam’s sister, Casey, and Amy Okuda (How to Get Away with Murder) plays his therapist, Julia. The series comes from The Goldbergs producers Robia Rashid and Seth Gordon. Its eight-episode first season will premiere August 11.
In the teaser, Sam and Elsa discuss his new venture into the dating world. Elsa is hesitant, but Sam is firm. “Talking to girls makes me a little nervous but Julia says it’s good to do things that scare you,” he explains, matter-of-factly. Then, when his mom presses him: “I’m getting older and at some point I really, really hope that I get to see boobs.”
It’s a brief clip, but enough to make Atypical look charming, heartfelt, and funny. Netflix has been ramping up its comedy portfolio for quite some time, most recently with new outings like Santa Clarita Diet, Dear White People, and the forthcoming Friends From College, but in recent years, it’s also proved an apt leader for more offbeat humor. Take, for example, the YouTube-born absurdism of Colleen Ballinger’s Haters Back Off!, the surreal and semi-autobiographical Lady Dynamite from Maria Bamford, or Michaela Coel’s wonderfully awkward Chewing Gum — all of which hit delightfully left-of-center, and have been rightfully praised (but largely underrated) for doing so.
Atypical, then, seems to add yet another fresh perspective to the streaming giant’s growing spate of inventive comedies, especially since it leans into an under-discussed and important point of view. There have certainly been autistic characters on television before, but it’s rare to see them in a leading role, let alone have their experience be the focus. Rashid told USA Today that Atypical is a very specific story for a very specific boy, but nonetheless, the show’s core message should be a welcome voice in strengthening conversations about difference.
Atypical premieres August 11 on Netflix.
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