Sam’s relationship with Zahid is positive – Zahid is concerned with Sam’s sex life and tries to help however he can, from unsuccessfully taking Sam to a strip club, to interrupting customer interactions to assure Sam, to using his own girlfriend’s employee discount at Claire’s to help Sam give a girl a gift.Sam’s mother Elsa, sister Casey, and classmate-turned-girlfriend Paige, are all fierce advocates for Sam.I was really looking forward to all of Casey’s scenes, and again, admired her for standing up for Sam when she has enough to grapple with on her own besides feeling protective of her older brother.Here are the things I absolutely disliked about “Atypical:” Other than giving into television stereotypes of Sam initially wanting an intimate relationship with his therapist, coming of age stories, Elsa’s steamy affair with the bartender, and good-girl athlete Casey falling for a bad boy, I had genuine concerns about the show and its portrayal of autism. Sam simply misses every social cue, finds every excuse possible to talk about penguins and Antarctica, and appears inherently selfish and inconsiderate. He knows he’s weird, and he doesn’t really care, except when it comes to his quest to have a girlfriend and have sex.
Her experiences are valid, complicated, and give “Atypical” a heart.
“Atypical” focuses on Sam Gardner, an autistic high school senior who is extremely passionate about penguins and really wants a relationship with a girl; and the rest the Gardner family: his autism warrior mom Elsa, ashamed paramedic father Doug, and his track star younger sister Casey.
All of them have varying storylines of their own: Elsa’s infidelity, Doug’s acceptance of his son’s autism, and Casey’s promising athletic future and her first boyfriend (who also is a little bit of a troublemaker).
Casey stands up to other kids at their high school, makes sure he has lunch money, and tries to protect him from getting hurt by Paige.
I also respected when Paige went to the PTA meeting to make the winter formal more accessible overall by successfully proposing a silent disco instead of the flashing strobe lights, loud music experience most of us are familiar with at school dances – and at said PTA meeting, we see a lot of parents lash out at Sam’s mom, thinking she put Paige up to this (she didn’t).