What Was The Good Physician’s Impression of the Portrayal of Autism on Tv?

The Good Physician centered round autism in a means no different collection had.

Like it or hate it, there isn’t any denying it made a robust influence. For the previous seven years, viewers have gotten to know Shaun as he struggled professionally and personally, which modified how autistic characters are portrayed.

As The Good Physician Season 7 heads towards its conclusion, let us take a look at the affect this collection has had on autistic illustration.

There have been different exhibits that featured autistic characters, however they usually centered on the impact a member of the family’s autism had on the remainder of the household, particularly the adults.

Parenthood was particularly responsible of this, making Max’s autism all about how tough it was for the Bravermans to have an autistic youngster.

Netflix‘s Atypical did a barely higher job, making Sam a full-fledged, three-dimensional character. Nonetheless, a number of airtime was given to his sister’s resentment over having to deal with him and his mom’s mid-life disaster when s he realized he was extra unbiased than she thought.

This does not start to check with the way in which The Good Physician dealt with Shaun’s autism.

When The Good Physician first started, Shaun was a younger man with desires of changing into a health care provider who needed to show himself as a result of too many medical doctors thought his autism made him a legal responsibility to the hospital.

The collection was an ensemble drama from the start, however the focus was on Shaun’s journey, not on how a lot simpler everybody else’s life could be if Shuan have been neurotypical.

Over the subsequent six years, Shaun grew right into a succesful physician, but struggled with relationships due to his autism. A lot airtime was dedicated to his relationship with Lea, however they finally married and had their very own child, demonstrating that autistic individuals can try this, too.

The Good Physician Ended Some Unfavorable Stereotypes However Inadvertently Bolstered One other

From The Good Physician Season 1 Episode 1, the collection sought to point out Shaun as extra succesful than individuals believed. The concept that autism was a tragedy or that autistic individuals cannot operate properly sufficient to work at a professional-level job was gone, smashed from the primary minute of the primary hour.

This can be a good factor and a development I need tv to proceed.

Nonetheless, The Good Physician fell into the lure of casting Shaun as a savant — somebody who was impaired in some ways however had an distinctive expertise that made him good in a single space.

This concept is controversial as a result of not all autistic individuals are savants.

Many have common or above-average intelligence, work at numerous jobs, and stay lives just like their neurotypical friends with out being geniuses in any space of their lives.

Some autistic individuals hate the savant trope as a result of they really feel it means that autism is barely acceptable if it offers the particular person a superpower.

Shaun Is Extra Three-Dimensional Than Many Autistic Characters Regardless of His Savant Standing

Though Shaun’s means to visualise novel approaches to surgical issues was a superpower that almost all autistic individuals do not possess, he additionally did not completely match the drained TV trope of the autistic savant as a result of he was useful in lots of areas of his life.

He might stay independently, although he took a bus as a substitute of driving, labored on the hospital, and made associates regardless of his confusion about social abilities. This was notably true throughout the first few seasons when Claire labored with him.

Claire was affected person with Shaun when he did not perceive social cues, did not choose him, defended him in opposition to bigotry, and provided emotional assist.

Shaun was additionally a great good friend to her regardless of his social difficulties, which smashed the stereotype that autistic individuals can’t have two-sided relationships.

Sadly, Antonia Thomas left after The Good Physician Season 4, and Shaun by no means discovered one other good friend pretty much as good as her. At this level, the collection centered on his romantic relationships, and he and Lea quickly turned central to the present.

Shaun’s Empathy Busted One other Stereotype

One pernicious stereotype about autistic individuals is that they do not possess empathy. That is completely unfaithful, and research have proven that autistic individuals are inclined to possess extra empathy than the typical particular person however generally shut down as a result of they’re overwhelmed.

Though Shaun’s directness and logical strategy to points made it seem to be he was unempathetic, the other was true.

He had empathy for sufferers who wanted impractical surgical procedures, which was a part of what drove him to seek out alternate options, and he had empathy for his associates, even when they did not all the time suppose so.

There’s extra to empathy than merely stating that you simply perceive how somebody feels or having a wonderful bedside method. Shaun struggled generally with speaking how he felt, however he did not lack empathy.

Shaun’s Meltdowns Toed The Line

One space the place the writers generally used questionable judgment was Shaun’s meltdowns, particularly throughout the early seasons.

Meltdowns are sometimes a truth of life for autistic individuals, particularly if they’re overstimulated or overwhelmed. Nonetheless, a few of Shaun’s behaviors have been was ugly memes that individuals laughed at.

One well-known instance occurred throughout The Good Physician Season 2 Episode 17. Dr. Han, who didn’t consider Shaun could possibly be a surgeon, ordered Shaun to report back to pathology once more. Shaun melted down, saying again and again that he was a surgeon.

This clip was taken out of context, and memes made enjoyable of Shaun’s depth on this scene. That is the hazard of exhibiting this side of autism as taken out of context; it seems to be like somebody is overdramatic and immature, which contributes to unfavourable stereotypes.

For these of us who accompanied Shaun on his journey, although, meltdowns like these have been comprehensible, and so they helped some autistic individuals really feel extra seen, so the nice seemingly outweighed the unhealthy right here.

Nonetheless, the collection needed to be cautious to not reinforce ableist stereotypes when depicting these points.

Not All Autistic Individuals Are Alike

Though The Good Physician did a number of good for autistic individuals, throughout Season 7, it appears to be making the essential error of depicting all autistic individuals as being the identical.

New character Charlie is the primary autistic character performed by an autistic actress, a big achievement that shouldn’t be neglected. Nonetheless, the on-the-nose portrayal of Charlie as Shaun 2.0 reinforces the stereotype that each one autistic individuals act a sure means.

Charlie has improved since her first episode, so there’s hope that the collection will rectify this earlier than it ends. Hopefully, that would be the case as a result of it might be a disgrace to break its legacy of breaking stereotypes relating to autistic individuals with this critical misstep.

Over to you, The Good Physician fanatics. How do you suppose the tv panorama has modified for autistic characters after The Good Physician?

Hit the massive, blue SHOW COMMENTS button and tell us.

The Good Physician airs on ABC on Tuesdays at 10/9c.

Jack Ori is a senior workers author for TV Fanatic. His debut younger grownup novel, Reinventing Hannah, is offered on Amazon. Comply with him on X.


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