Hollywood’s representation of mental health and disabilities hasn’t always been the best. Actually, it has been problematic. Even so, times are a-changing — and Atypical‘s showrunner Robia Rashid is part of that contingent that making progress.
The critically acclaimed Atypical, which recently finished its second season (it has yet to be renewed for a third season but we have hope!), is changing the way we look at autism. With Keir Gilchrist’s Sam at the center of the Netflix series, we see his life as an 18-year-old on the autistic spectrum as he searches for love and independence and his life with his mother (Jennifer Jason Leigh), father (Michael Rapaport), sister (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and his off-and-on therapist Julia (Amy Okuda). Even though the main character is on the spectrum, this is not just a “show about autism” — it’s a family comedy.
Rashid created the show from her own personal experience with someone close to her that is on the spectrum and has went to great lengths give proper representation. The show features actors on the spectrum and makes Sam a three-dimensional character rather than making it all about his autism.
Prior to Atypical, Rashid wrote for Will & Grace, How I Met Your Mother, and Aliens in America. She joined us in the New Hollywood Podcast about her writing career, finding her voice, how all the shows she worked on reflected her own coming of age story and what she would like to see happen on season 3 for the Netflix comedy if it gets renewed — and we have hope that it will.
Listen to the episode below.