“Atypical” is a TV show centered around Sam Gardener, a 19-year-old who’s autistic. Season 4, the final season of the show, was released on July 9, 2021, on Netflix. Season 1 and 2 depicted his navigation through high school, and in Season 3, his journey as a freshman in college. Topics discussed on the show include Sam navigating a romantic relationship and other aspects of his journey on the autism spectrum. This season, we get to explore his world further while concluding the series. As an autistic adult, autism entertainment consultant and a fan of film and television, this was a series I knew I wanted to binge right away.
Here’s what I enjoyed about Season 4: the final season of “Atypical.”
Note: Spoilers ahead
Seeing Sam thrive despite some obstacles along the way
Autism is sometimes a challenge for Sam, but that has not stopped him from pursuing his goals. What a ride he has had in these four seasons! I believe his character will resonate with many in the autism community, especially with young autistic adults pursuing different milestones. First, we saw Sam accomplish his goal of wanting a girlfriend. Later, he reached his goal of getting accepted into college. In season 3, he was then able to navigate his transition to college while also making plans to live independently with his friend for the first time. And then finally, he was able to find something he wants to do for a potential career (art), learned to drive, and set himself towards going to Antarctica.
In college, like Sam, I found what I wanted to do. I discovered I have a passion for public speaking, which I’m doing to this day as a job. Sam spent a large part of Season 4 getting himself ready for a potential Antarctica trip (getting used to the cold, trying to interact more socially, etc.). However, when Season 4 was about the end, and the Antarctica trip was canceled due to lack of interest (Sam was the only one signed up), Despite this obstacle, Sam still found a way to make his goal happen.
In a review I wrote of Season 1 of the show and looking at things I’d like to see them do for Season 2, I’m happy to say they hired a full-time consultant who’s on the autism spectrum. They later hired Tal Anderson, a young autistic adult who I first learned about when I gave her an autism scholarship for college. Tal ended up playing the character of Sid on the show, who had a role in Season 3 and an even more prominent role in Season 4. Representation continues to need to be addressed in the entertainment industry, and seeing multiple autistic characters on the show has been refreshing.
The relationship between Sam and his mom and dad
At the beginning of Season 1, it felt at times like Sam’s dad Doug didn’t understand his son’s quirks and there was some distance between them. Sam’s mom Elsa also felt overprotective at times towards him, worried that his diagnosis would hurt his chances of succeeding in college. However, whether his dad was deciding to go with Sam to Antarctica or his mom was becoming less protective and allowing him to go to Antarctica after not initially being receptive to the idea, they’ve all become closer and more trusting of one another.
Siblings play such a huge role and Sam’s sister Casey truly loves Sam. The bond they share is one where Casey just treats Sam just like anyone else. It’s a beautiful thing to see.
While I’m sad that “Atypical” is over, especially when other shows with a focus on autism like “The Good Doctor” and “Parenthood” got renewed past four seasons, I’m grateful for Netflix, Sony, and everyone involved in “Atypical,” including the creator of the show Robia Rashid and their incredible consultant Elaine Hall from The Miracle Project, for giving us this fantastic series to put a spotlight on autism.
Have you watched the final season of Atypical? Tell me what you thought in the comments!
My name is Kerry Magro, a professional speaker and best-selling author who is also on the autism spectrum that started the nonprofit KFM Making a Difference in 2011 to help students with autism receive scholarship aid to pursue a post-secondary education. Help support me so I can continue to help students with autism go to college by making a tax-deductible donation to our nonprofit here.