TV: the 42″ Mirror

This morning, I decided to try and begin watching the latest offering from Netflix called Atypical.. I had been waiting for this for quite a while, in fact, ever since it was announced online. This bold new show is about the life of a young high school student with Autism called Sam, played by Keir Gilchrist.

Mrs Bob and I decided that we both wanted to watch it together, as it seemed from the trailer to be an intriguing concept.  We started watching the first episodes, and something suddenly struck me while watching Sam. The way he acted around everyone he came into contact with and the way he dealt with situations that most people would call normal everyday situations, made me feel that I wasn’t really watching a TV show. I was looking into a huge, 42″ mirror.

This show made me feel very uncomfortable in its accuracy and attention to detail; even though the character was played by a neurotypical actor. Mrs Bob noticed and reminded me that I do and say a lot of things that were portrayed by him. This was a very big wake up call and a stark reminder to me that no matter how much I try to hide it, or pretend to be more like the rest of the neurotypical world that inhabit, I will never and can never be NORMAL no matter how fucking hard I try. The really hard part is the fact that I don’t see myself as being autistic; possibly because I was diagnosed very late and only 2 years ago.  I’m pretty high-functioning, too,  so to the untrained eye i can appear relatively normal, but just quirky.

Apart from a big wake-up call, the show reminded me that no matter how hard I try to fit in and socialise with the world, I will always be a stranger with my nose pressed up against the window of a world that I can never really fully be a part of or understand.

It made me feel more alone than I have in a very long time and it did all this by forcing me to take a long hard look at myself and how the world sees me. I want to watch more than the two episodes I’ve already seen, but it might take a while….

Interestingly, Mrs Bob found it uncomfortable to watch too.  She identified very strongly with the character’s family and their anxieties and frustrations with the lead character.  I’m glad it wasn’t only me that felt it was incredibly realistic!  But this is a very important show. Many autistic viewers have slated it, but I do wonder whether that’s because it was a bit close to the bone, as it was for me…

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