Netflix’s show “Atypical” returned to the streaming site on Sept. 7, 2018 for the release of its second season. This heartfelt dramedy focuses on Sam Gardener, an 18-year-old boy on the Autism spectrum, and how he navigates through teenage life with the support of family and friends. Throughout season one, Sam was focused on finding love. In season two, his newfound pursuit is to find his own independence.
Season two of “Atypical” has incredible charisma, and the remarkable ability to make you laugh and cry within the span of its 30-minute episodes. It’s better than season one in nearly every way, with its broader focus and undeniable character development across the board. This season expands the spotlight with a deeper focus on Sam’s family and friends.
There’s Casey, Sam’s 15-year-old sister, who is a track star attempting to navigate through the complications of relationships and her parents’ jeopardized marriage. Elsa, Casey and Sam’s devoted mother, is very involved in bringing awareness to autism and has trouble adjusting to her son’s new found quest for independence. Doug, father to Sam and Casey, is an emergency response technician and works hard to be as supportive towards his children as he possibly can. Zahid, Sam’s best friend and coworker, is constantly giving Sam advice on how to attract girls, relieve stress and even how to lie.
After the release of the first season in 2017, consisting of 8 episodes, the show received some backlash for not having a realistic enough depiction of living with autism, or enough representation of actors with autism. Fortunately, the creators of “Atypical” spoke out about how they were working to make the show more accurate and inclusive in season 2. Mary Rohlich, executive producer of “Atypical,” responded to the criticism through the magazine Variety stating the team was making an effort to have a more inclusive and representative cast; “We spent every day during post [production] on set asking what we can do better in season 2 to bring more voices from the autism community.” This effort was made with the introduction of a peer therapy group for teenagers on the spectrum in season two. Most of the characters in these scenes were played by actors on the spectrum.
Altogether, “Atypical” is a heartfelt show that draws you in with its personable characters and down-to-earth humor. The true gem of this show is the bond of the Gardener family. They certainly don’t always get along. Throughout season 2, Elsa and Doug wrestle with marital issues. Casey struggles in forgiving her mother for her past actions, and has a few emotionally charged arguments with Sam. However, there’s a permanent understanding between all of them that they’ll always have each other’s backs.
Season 2 of “Atypical” has received mostly positive reviews, with a score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes. Unfortunately, it is too soon to know if there will be a season 3. The possibilities in the shows future narrative are endless, but I’m sure if an additional season happens it will not disappoint.