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Atypical - Advance Preview: Everybody’s Weird, It’s Awesome!

"I’m a weirdo."

Atypical - Advance Preview

Atypical is the new Netflix comedy, and ignoring some of the last Netflix choices it's going back to what you would've expected of them, it's a fresh, quirky comedy that still knows how to do drama. It introduces us to the Gardner family the mom, Elsa (Jennifer Jason Leigh); the dad, Doug (Michael Rapaport); the sister, Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and the son Sam (Keir Gilchrist), who's on the Autism spectrum. I can't say it's a family I fell in love with right away, they're all deeply flawed, mostly the parents, but they make for a very entertaining ride.

Atypical shows how the parents struggle with raising their kids and trying to be people at the same time, something that proves challenging to all parents, but mostly those that have kids with special needs, that can prove particularly challenging and here there's no lack of those moments, which is what makes this feel so real. And it shows how his sister can struggle too, I don't know if I mentioned it before but it needs to be said, Casey is freaking awesome, she's the first character I fell in love with and her and Sam's dynamic is one of the strong points of the show.

One of the main things I loved about this show is the writing, the way they show us the world through Sam's eyes, how his mind works and the connections he makes, the narration is perfectly used, and one of the best moments come when he's doing research on social behavior, especially when he goes to the wrong sources. It's funny and surprising, which is not the thing you hear the most when referring to comedies lately, it makes you notice things that are usually naturalized about human behavior and it can actually make you think, with just a simple note on the bathroom mirror they made me crack up and understand something new at the same time: "Remember to put deodorant, your friends will thank you."

Sam has a therapist, Julia (Amy Okuda who you might remember from How to Get Away With Murder), that helps him process life and understand the how socially acceptable behavior works, she becomes one of the biggest catalysts in pushing Sam away from his comfort zone, with some good and bad outcomes. Raúl Castillo (Looking), Jenna Boyd's Paige and Nik Dodani's Zahid, the best friend Sam could ever have, are a big part of what makes the show so entertaining, so big props to them. There's also Evan, Graham Rogers (Quantico’s Caleb Haas), and I really like him as an actor, but he's 26 years old and playing a teenager, which might have worked for some but here it's a bit too creepy.

Keir is definitely the stand out, his portrayal of Sam is so believable, he's funny, charming, awkward and sometimes even mean, and you can't take your eyes off of him, you may have seen him in United States of Tara or It Follows, but if you haven't seen him in anything yet, you probably will soon, the kid is amazing and he's working quite a lot, he's about to appear on the 10th episode of HBO's Room 104 and is currently working in two different movies with airdate this year, I'm especially eying Heartthrob with Nashville alumna Aubrey Peeples.

Brigette is also great, even though she might be overshadowed by her character's awesomeness a little bit, but I need to talk about the casting of the parents because there is where I feel some of the potential is lost. I had no preconceived ideas about them whatsoever coming in but was utterly underwhelmed, and even more so when I realized who they were. Let me begin with Michael Rapaport, you might have seen him in Public Morals, Justified, Prison Break and small but memorable roles on Friends and The Big Bang Theory, but he might be the best example of correct typecasting, and even though the dad of this family might require being a little wooden, it's not the right kind of wooden and his acting falls quite flat on emotional moments.

Jennifer, though, is the one that disappointed me the most, she had one of the most important roles for the family dynamic to work, and even though she was okay, I was stunned when I realized she was the crazy prisoner on Tarantino's The Hateful Eight, she's just unremarkable here and, though that might be what she was going for, just like her male counterpart, she makes scenes that could've been amazing, just okay.

But don't let my ranting keep you from watching this show, because it comes from a place of love, if the show was bad I wouldn't even bother, the fact that it makes me so mad, is because it's great, but it could've been brilliant. So, even if it's not the best thing Netflix has done (that's actually a pretty high bar in my book), I believe it has a good chance of being renewed, but even if it isn't it's worth watching anyways, it's a great comedy to binge, laugh, enjoy, and think about perspectives that might have been beyond your reach before, and that is one of the best compliments I can give any fictional product, either book, movie or TV show.

Some Quotes:

"You just have to put yourself out there." "Out where?"

"My sister doesn’t let anyone beat me up, except herself."

Atypical comes out on Friday August 11th.

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