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Poster for Season 1
|Created by||Robia Rashid|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||28 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Robia Rashid|
|Producer(s)||Jennifer Jason Leigh|
|Production location(s)||Los Angeles, California|
|Running time||26–38 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Weird Brain|
Sony Pictures Television
|Original release||August 11, 2017 –|
Atypical is a coming-of-age television series created by Robia Rashid for Netflix. It focuses on the life of 18-year-old Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist), who has autism spectrum disorder. The first season was released on August 11, 2017, consisting of eight episodes. The ten-episode second season was released on September 7, 2018. In October 2018, the series was renewed for a third season of ten episodes, which was released on November 1, 2019. In February 2020, the series was renewed for a fourth and final season. The final 10 episodes will premiere in 2021.
The first season received mostly positive reviews, though the show was criticized for its lack of autistic actors and perceived inaccuracies in its depiction of autism. The second season featured more actors and writers with autism, and also received mostly positive reviews. The third season continued this development and received overwhelmingly positive reviews.
Sam Gardner, an 18-year-old from Connecticut with autism, announces that he wants to start dating girls. His father, Doug, has struggled to connect with Sam and is thrilled when Sam approaches him for advice. When Sam wants to surprise his crush with chocolate-covered strawberries, Doug drives him to her house only to discover that Sam's crush is Julia, Sam's 26-year-old therapist. Doug quickly pulls Sam away and tells him to find a girlfriend his own age. Sam decides he needs a "practice girlfriend" and, with the help of his friends and family, begins to learn the social nuances of dating.
As Sam grows more independent, his mother Elsa struggles to find a life outside of being his guardian. During a night out with friends, Elsa meets a bartender and begins an affair with him. Sam's younger sister, Casey, breaks a track-and-field record and receives an athletic scholarship to a prestigious but distant high school. Although she wants to attend, she is nervous about what leaving will mean for Sam. Her concerns are exacerbated when she discovers that Doug abandoned their family for a while after Sam's diagnosis and that Elsa is having an affair. Meanwhile, Julia finds a chocolate-covered strawberry Sam left behind during his visit. She accuses her boyfriend of cheating on her, which leads him to break up with her. After he moves out, Julia discovers that she is pregnant with his child.
Upon learning of Elsa's affair, Doug quickly kicks her out of the house, leaving him to complete all household tasks by himself, which proves overwhelming. Doug later allows Elsa back into the house under his guidelines, although he remains distant. Sam, no longer able to see Julia due to a conflict of interest, struggles to find a new therapist he is comfortable with. The school's guidance counsellor, Ms. Whitaker, encourages Sam to apply to university and join her peer group for students on the spectrum, which prepares students for graduation and independence.
Although she feels unwelcome at Clayton Preparatory School, Casey is befriended by the captain of the track team, Izzie, who is initially mean to her. The two develop a close relationship, and Casey develops romantic feelings for Izzie towards the end of the second season–leaving her wondering what it means for her and her boyfriend, Evan. Without Casey being in Sam's school, he begins to express the changes in his life by sketching in his notebook more frequently. After his drawings are discovered by Ms. Whitaker, Sam applies to Denton University's Scientific Illustration program and is accepted. Meanwhile, Julia deals with frustrations regarding a lackluster proposal, as well as her pregnancy.
Cast and characters
- Keir Gilchrist as Sam Gardner, an 18-year-old young man on the autism spectrum who is obsessed with Antarctica. Gilchrist said about the character, "He's one person that is on the autism spectrum. He's a very specific character".
- Jennifer Jason Leigh as Elsa Gardner, Sam and Casey's overprotective mother
- Brigette Lundy-Paine as Casey Gardner, Sam's younger sister 
- Amy Okuda as Julia Sasaki, Sam's therapist (seasons 1–2, recurring season 3)
- Michael Rapaport as Doug Gardner, Sam and Casey's father and Elsa's husband
- Nik Dodani as Zahid Raja, Sam's best friend, a "dweeby and foul-mouthed lothario"
- Fivel Stewart as Izzie (season 2–present), Casey's best friend and later girlfriend
- Graham Rogers as Evan Chapin, Casey's boyfriend
- Jenna Boyd as Paige Hardaway, Sam's girlfriend
- Raúl Castillo as Nick (seasons 1–2), a bartender Elsa has an affair with
- Christina Offley as Sharice (seasons 1–2, guest season 3), Casey's friend
- Rachel Redleaf as Beth Chapin, Evan's sister, whom Casey stands up for after witnessing her get bullied for her weight by arrogant mean girl Bailey Bennett
- Ariela Barer as Bailey Bennett (seasons 1-2)
- Anthony Jacques as Christopher (seasons 1-2)
- Karl T. Wright as Chuck (seasons 1, 3), Doug's EMT partner
- Nina Ameri as Luisa, Elsa's friend.
- Angel Laketa Moore as Megan (seasons 2–3), Doug's female friend & confidant from the Autism support group
- Domonique Brown as Jasper (seasons 2-3)
- Layla Weiner as Amber (seasons 2-3), Megan's daughter.
- Graham Phillips as Nate (season 2, guest season 3), Izzie's ex-boyfriend
- Casey Wilson as Ms. Whitaker (season 2)
- Jeff Rosenthal as Bob (season 3, guest season 1-2), Sam and Zahid's boss at Techtropolis.
- Sara Gilbert as Professor Judd (season 3), Sam's ethics professor at Denton University
- Allie Rae Treharne as Gretchen (season 3), Zahid's disgraced troublemaking girlfriend.
- Kimia Behpoornia as Abby (season 3), Sam's friend.
- Eric McCormack as Professor Shinerock (season 3), Sam's art professor at Denton University
|1||8||August 11, 2017|
|2||10||September 7, 2018|
|3||10||November 1, 2019|
Season 1 (2017)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||1||"Antarctica"||Seth Gordon||Robia Rashid||August 11, 2017|
|Sam has a session with his therapist Julia, in which he learns that autistic people can date people. Sam begins to look for a relationship, encouraged by his friend Zahid, with whom he works at Techtropolis, an appliance store. He goes on an unsuccessful date with a girl he met through online dating, then another where he asks out a woman in Techtropolis and pushes her off the bed when she starts to touch him. Meanwhile, Sam's sister Casey is suspended for punching Bailey Bennett, a fellow student, who graffitied "ORCA" on another student, Beth Chapin's locker. Beth makes Casey a chocolate cake out of gratitude, bringing her brother Evan with her. Evan asks Casey out and though she rejects him, they begin to hang out. To take her mind off worrying about Sam, Elsa goes on a date with her husband Doug and starts a dance class. Afterwards, she goes to a bar and spends the night talking to the bartender, Nick.|
|2||2||"A Human Female"||Michael Patrick Jann||Mike Oppenhuizen||August 11, 2017|
|Sam is distressed to learn that Julia has a boyfriend, as he is interested in dating her. Doug gives Sam advice without realizing the girl he likes is Julia and Zahid encourages Sam to pursue Julia. Sam is mocked and taunted after he approaches Bailey and Arlo and asks them questions about how to "steal a woman". Doug consoles Sam and tells him that relationships are difficult but one shouldn't give up. He gives Sam a lift to Julia's house so he can leave her chocolate-covered strawberries. To Doug's alarm, Sam breaks into Julia's house. Doug then realizes whose house it is and drags him away. Meanwhile, Elsa discovers that she left her credit card at the bar, and picks it up. She is hit by a dart on her way out, so Nick puts a plaster on her wound. The pair exchange phone numbers. Casey's friends tell her that Evan was arrested and expelled; Evan explains that it was for stealing brass instruments. He is upset that Casey finds the story funny, but then she kisses him.|
|3||3||"Julia Says"||Michael Patrick Jann||Brian Tanen||August 11, 2017|
|Whilst on a run together, Casey tells Doug about her first kiss. Doug is angry at Evan when he sees him with Casey. Casey learns from Sam that Doug left them for eight months in 2004, so she skips school, but Doug finds her and confesses what happened and how he regrets it. Meanwhile, after rejection by a girl, Sam gets a desire to vary his wardrobe. He goes shopping with Elsa and Zahid, but Zahid picks a jacket for him that he finds very uncomfortable, he later manages to get rid of it. In the corridor, a girl, Paige, compliments the whale T-shirt he bought. Elsa is concerned over the influence Julia has over Sam, and after Zahid tells her a story of him rubbing his butt against the car of a person with whom he was angry, she does the same thing to Julia's car. Nick has been texting her, and she responds. They meet up and have sex.|
|4||4||"A Nice Neutral Smell"||Seth Gordon||Annabel Oakes||August 11, 2017|
|After having sex with Nick, Elsa goes shopping and suddenly announces to a cashier that she cheated on her husband; throughout the episode she sees things that remind her of her affair. Casey wins an important 400m race, but though her family are at the game, they miss seeing her win as Elsa drops her phone and Sam grabs a girl's ponytail. Following the race, Clayton Prep want to recruit her. Paige asks Sam to study with her, and after Julia encourages him to do so, Sam invites Paige to his house to study. Doug attends Elsa's weekly support group for parents of children with autism, where the group leader objects to him not using people-first language. Elsa makes a special family dinner, to which Casey invites Evan and Sam invites Zahid and Paige, both without asking Elsa. Paige steals Sam's notebook, looking for a pros and cons list he made about her. She is upset by the list and leaves during dinner. Sam follows her and asks her to be his girlfriend. Casey then tells her parents about Clayton Prep and Elsa replies that she probably can't go because Sam relies on Casey being at the same school.|
|5||5||"That's My Sweatshirt!"||Michael Patrick Jann||Dennis Saldua||August 11, 2017|
|Elsa phones Nick angrily after he accidentally sends a birthday invitation to her. Paige and Sam hang out in their bedroom. He finds her loud and annoying so he makes her sit in his closet, though she doesn't mind and takes a sweatshirt of his. When Sam learns this, he begins to hide from her. Casey has an interview at Clayton Prep and is told by a friend that Sam is missing, but he is quickly found. The interviewer, a student at the school, talks to her about her brother's autism. The following day, Casey discourages Paige from dating Sam. Paige breaks up with Sam and returns his sweatshirt. Sam yells at Casey, telling her that he doesn't need her help. He bursts into Paige's French class with a penguin necklace for her, and the pair kiss. Meanwhile, Julia's boyfriend Miles moves out of their house without warning, leaving only a note behind. Elsa and Doug have dinner with two of Doug's old friends, leading Elsa to realize that he never told anyone at his job that his son was autistic. Elsa goes over to Nick's house and they have sex again.|
|6||6||"The D-Train to Bone Town"||Michael Patrick Jann||Mike Oppenhuizen & Jen Regan||August 11, 2017|
|Paige wants Sam to go to the Winter Formal with her, but he objects because of the music. Elsa takes marijuana with Nick and bumps into her friend April, mentioning that Casey is planning to join Clayton Prep. Paige wants to have sex with Sam, so he buys condoms. The track team at Newton treat Casey weirdly after discovering she is leaving. Casey goes shopping with them and Sharice steals her clothes. Whilst Elsa cuts a friend's hair, Sam is forced to hang out with her son Christopher, who also has autism and talks to Sam about sex. Paige proposes a "Silent Dance" for the Winter Formal, in which participants listen to the music through headphones, and the motion is passed, leading April to get angry at Elsa. Zahid takes Sam to a strip club but he leaves immediately. A stripper outside talks to Sam and shows her breasts to him. Doug takes Julia to the emergency room after noticing her limping and she tells him about her parent's reaction to her brother's autism. Doug apologizes to Elsa for not telling his work friends about Sam's autism. Sharice apologizes to Casey. Julia discovers that she is pregnant.|
|7||7||"I Lost My Poor Meatball"||Joe Kessler||Robia Rashid||August 11, 2017|
Elsa makes cupcakes for the Winter Formal with friends from her support group. Without thinking, Paige tells Sam that she loves him, and she wants him to decide if he loves her before meeting her family on Thursday at an Olive Garden. Elsa walks in on Casey and Evan kissing and tells Casey that she is available to talk about sex if she wants. Casey replies that she is not having sex. Elsa goes to the bar, where a memorial is being held for a deceased staff member Meatball.Sam goes with his parents to Olive Garden and they give him three criteria to decide if he is in love. Julia goes to Techtropolis to pick up a television and runs into Sam and Zahid; she shows Sam how to slow dance. Casey finds out she has received a scholarship to Clayton Prep and cycles to Evan's house to tell him the news. Elsa ends her affair with Nick, and as she gives him a parting kiss, Casey rides past on her bike and sees them. Casey arrives at Evan's house and they have sex. Afterwards, Evan tells Casey that he loves her.
|8||8||"The Silencing Properties of Snow"||Michael Patrick Jann||Robia Rashid||August 11, 2017|
|During dinner with Paige's family, Sam tells Paige that he doesn't love her. He asks Julia to be his girlfriend and she realizes he broke into her house and starts yelling. Repeating the four species of Antarctic penguin for reassurance, Sam gets on the bus, repeating the list louder and louder while rocking back and forth. Doug argues with Julia. As Casey has been ignoring him, Evan goes to her house but she yells at him to leave. Paige yells at Sam, saying that she lost the necklace. Casey confronts Nick. Sam finds Paige's necklace in the school swimming pool and gets soaked retrieving it. Casey asks Sam if he wants her to turn her scholarship down, but he says he will be fine without her. Sam and Paige meet in the Winter Formal in an igloo which Doug made; Sam apologizes to Paige and says he is unsure of his feelings. Paige says they should not get back together, but gives him a handjob. Casey and Evan reconcile and say that they love each other. Julia returns home to find Miles, who proposes to her. Doug finds a message Casey wrote on Elsa's to-do board, "Stop banging the bartender".|
Season 2 (2018)
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|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|9||1||"Juiced!"||Joe Kessler||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
|Sam is upset, as it is the time in his week when he usually has an appointment with Julia, but she is no longer his therapist. In a flashback, Doug punches a hole in the wall after learning Elsa had an affair. He leaves the house to stay with his father. At dinner, Casey is passive-aggressive towards Elsa and leaves to go for a run. Sam and Paige speak over video call. Casey and Evan kiss in her room, despite interruptions from Sam and Elsa. Sam searches for a new therapist, but does not like the ones he meets. Elsa begs Kathy, from her support group, to get an appointment with Dr. Brob. Casey returns her gym uniform to Coach Briggs. At home, she tries on her new uniform and is angry at Elsa for tailoring her blazer after she asked her not to. Casey mentions that Elsa cheated on Doug, then realizes that Sam is present. Elsa explains to him why Doug left. Finding Casey moved his toothbrush again, he throws juice over her while she is wearing her uniform and she attacks him, though Elsa quickly pulls her off him. Sam goes to Julia's office, and they talk briefly. Doug returns home and consoles Casey. He tells Elsa she needs to leave. Casey apologizes to Sam, and he buys her pencils for school. Kathy leaves her kitten with Elsa to take care of, in exchange for speaking to Dr. Brob for her.|
|10||2||"Penguin Cam and Chill"||Ryan Case||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
|Elsa is staying at her friend's house, to the disappointment of her autistic son Christopher. She visits home to see her kids go back to school, but they act distant towards her. At Clayton Prep, Casey introduces herself to Izzie, who warns her not to cause drama. Paige tells Sam she wants a "casual" relationship and kisses him. Casey struggles to find her classrooms and keep up with the difficult nature of the lessons. Zahid explains to Sam what a casual relationship means. Elsa gets bangs. Sam gets Paige to define rules for their relationship. The next day, Casey arrives in uniform on casual dress day and does not have a Flex card to purchase canteen food with. As she accidentally mistakes his locker for hers, Casey meets Nate, Izzie's boyfriend. Doug meets Elsa at a coffee shop to give her a list of rules. The next day, Casey still cannot get lunch, but Nate gives her pizza. Sam goes to Paige's house, as she is upset after getting waitlisted for Bowdoin College. Finding out that Sam didn't tell her about Elsa's affair, Paige ends their relationship. Kathy gets her kitten back from Elsa.|
|11||3||"Little Dude and the Lion"||Silver Tree||Theresa Mulligan Rosenthal||September 7, 2018|
|At a meeting with Sam and his parents, Ms. Whitaker discusses Sam's plan for college and recommends a support group she runs for people with autism who are Sam's age. Overwhelmed in a lesson by the noise of the other students, Sam runs away and is hit by a slow-moving car in the parking lot. He gets up and hides in a supply closet. Julia and Miles bicker in front of one of her friends. Izzie falls over while running and blames Casey, so a teacher makes them sit in the same room until their issues are resolved. Izzie receives a distressing call, which leads her and Casey to talk about how Izzie takes care of her three siblings and Casey takes care of Sam. They bond and drink vodka together, which Izzie stole from a friend's locker. Sam attends the support group, where they discuss change, while Doug bonds with another member's mother and offers to show her daughter inside his ambulance. Meanwhile, Elsa expects them to turn up to Dr. Brob's office as they had agreed. Sam asks Paige to walk with him between classes sometimes. Casey goes to Evan's house, still drunk, and wants to have sex with him, though he ignores her. Elsa confronts Doug about being late to the appointment with Dr. Brob. Sam comes downstairs and announces that he wants to go to college. Evan calls Elsa about Casey being drunk.|
|12||4||"Pants on Fire"||Geeta Patel||Mike Oppenhuizen||September 7, 2018|
|After he submits a college application essay written about seeing a stripper's breasts, Ms. Whitaker suggests Sam should write the essay about his autism. Casey encourages him to lie, so he goes to Elsa, telling her she is the biggest liar he knows. Casey and Evan call; Evan makes jokes about Casey's behavior when drunk. In Elsa's support group, she talks about her lying. Julia goes for an ultrasound exam and realizes her hormones have been affecting her mood. The doctor puts the baby's gender and sonogram in an envelope which Julia can open if she wants. Zahid helps Sam learn to lie. Sam practices by telling Paige lies, and she accidentally slices her fingertip off on a paper guillotine after he pretends he has a sexual partner. Encouraged by her friends, Elsa starts a haircutting business for children with autism. Doug has a panic attack after a phone call to Elsa. Julia runs into Elsa and tells her that she's pregnant, and the two reconcile. After Zahid is caught smoking marijuana twice, Sam tells Bob, their boss, the marijuana was his so that Zahid is not fired. Evan comes to visit Casey, who is still embarrassed; Evan shows her an embarrassing childhood video of himself to cheer her up. After Elsa says she is trying to be more honest, Doug asks her questions about her affair. Julia opens the envelope and calls her mother to say she is having a boy. Sam writes about his autism and Zahid in his essay. Doug has a panic attack and collapses after hearing Elsa still thinks about Nick.|
|13||5||"The Egg Is Pipping"||Wendey Stanzler||Bob Smiley||September 7, 2018|
|In a flashback, we see Elsa and Doug's reaction to learning that Sam is autistic; Elsa discusses therapies, while Doug wants a third medical opinion. In the present, Doug denies to Elsa that his collapse was a panic attack, and refuses her offers to help around the house. Casey convinces Doug to allow Elsa to stay at the house. One of the members of Sam's support group expresses surprise that he does not have a bank account, so he talks to Elsa, and Doug, overhearing, takes him to set one up. At Izzie's suggestion, Casey goes to dinner with friends from Clayton Prep. Evan asks Casey if he can come and she reluctantly agrees. Doug recites the four species of Antarctic penguin, at Sam's suggestion, in order to calm down when he becomes panicked. Sam has $700 set aside to donate to charity and classmate Arlo convinces him to give him the money for a party, which he claims he will make penguin-themed, with an area set up for people to watch an Antarctic penguin egg livestream that Sam has been watching. Sam tells Elsa about it and she calls Arlo's mother, thinking it is a school-sanctioned event. Doug shows a girl from Sam's support group around his ambulance and chats to her mother about his situation with Elsa. Doug offers Elsa chop suey for dinner and she dresses up for the dinner, but finds he ate his meal separately and left. At dinner, Evan is surprised to see how Casey acts around her school friends, particularly Nate, and is upset when Casey interjects with "but he's really smart" after he says he goes to a technical school. Arlo smashes Sam's phone, as Arlo's parents realized he was planning a party from Elsa's call. Sam goes to the supply closet and tries to use his broken phone with no success; Bailey lends hers to him and they watch the penguin egg. Casey and Evan argue after the dinner. After Sam asks, Doug clarifies that Elsa is living at home, but tells Elsa that they are like roommates. The Gardner family watch Sam's egg hatching.|
|14||6||"In the Dragon's Lair"||Silver Tree||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
Sam buys Paige a stylus and she forgives him. As she is a sleepwalker, Paige asks Sam to watch her during the school's lock-in. Doug sleeps in the sunroom. Izzie meets Sam, and the two get along. Doug and Elsa go to visit Theo and Holly, the parents of Arlo, who previously stole $700 from Sam and smashed his phone. The four of them had been friends years ago, but stopped when Theo and Holly stopped inviting Sam to their camping trips because he was "difficult". Sam eats dinner with Zahid's family and stays overnight to practice for the lock-in. Arlo's parents apologize for his behavior, returning the money and buying him a new phone. Sam struggles to sleep in Zahid's room, so he goes for a walk around Zahid's neighborhood. Holly apologizes for uninviting Sam to the trips. A police officer stops Sam, but Sam does not understand the situation and continues walking, ignoring the officer. Zahid rushes in to explain that Sam has autism, but the cop ignores him and makes them get on the ground, arresting them. Nate arrives at Casey's house, and Izzie falls asleep as they watch a movie. Nate tries to kiss Casey, but she jumps up and storms out.Zahid and Sam are taken into custody at the police station; Zahid helps Sam cope by telling him about his dream to become a nurse. Holly and Elsa get along, Theo and Doug fall out when Theo is dismissive of Sam because of his autism. The police officer lets Sam and Zahid go, but refuses to apologize for his actions.
|15||7||"The Smudging"||Pam Thomas||Robia Rashid & Dennis Saldua||September 7, 2018|
|Sam has been calling Julia at the time his sessions used to be. His latest message is about him being apprehended by the police. Sam agrees to go the lock-in with Paige. Elsa suggests to Doug that because of his job, he should be the one to complain about Sam's arrest. Casey writes Izzie a letter saying that Nate attempted to kiss her; Izzie catches her trying to put it in her locker and reads it in front of her. Sam goes to his support group and Ms. Whitaker asks him to research colleges he may want to attend. Doug speaks to the officer who arrested Sam, and he puts Sam's face on a noticeboard in the station. Zahid talks to Sam about college. Evan and Casey talk about Nate; he sees Elsa trying to fix the hole on his way out. The next day, he comes to help fix it. Paige has been accepted to Bowdoin College and wants Sam to attend too. Nate claims to Izzie that Casey was the one who tried to initiate the kiss; she chooses to believe Nate. Julia calls Doug and tells him about Sam's voicemails. Casey encourages Sam to think for himself about his future. Anxious, he skips his appointment with Ms. Whitaker and hides in the supply closet; Bailey is impressed by his drawings and ask him to draw on her arm with a marker. Casey finds "slut" and "ho" written on her trainers and tries frantically to clean them. Paige overhears Sam and Bailey as she finishes painting a bench for the senior gift; she pulls the fire alarm after noticing Bailey's cigarette. The three are called into Ms. Whitaker's office and Sam and Bailey are assigned community service. Seeing his notebook, Ms. Whitaker notices Sam's artistic ability. After Elsa washes Casey's trainers, she sees the slurs on them and buys her a new pair. Doug suggests to Elsa that they work on a training program about autism for first responders. As they pick up litter around school, Bailey kisses Sam.|
|16||8||"Living at an Angle"||Pete Chatmon||Jen Regan & Theresa Mulligan Rosenthal||September 7, 2018|
|Sam shows his finished his art portfolio to Casey and Evan, with which he is applying to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). Casey and Evan unintentionally make him anxious about the big life change. The track coach at Clayton has a meeting with Casey, warning that if she continues doing poorly in biology, she may lose her scholarship. At his group, Sam announces that he has an interview at RISD. Julia meets with Doug and Elsa to plan the training program for first responders, but Doug and Elsa begin talking about the state of their marriage. Sam realizes he has lost his portfolio during work with Zahid; they contact Casey, who stops studying to search his room. She comes to work and calms Sam down. They search Techtropolis and a sports place where Sam and Zahid recently went; Sam and Casey descend into argument. When they return home, a girl from Sam's support group—Amber—and her mother arrive to return the portfolio, which Amber had stolen. Casey apologizes to Sam and he helps her study biology. Julia calls Miles and breaks up with him; he is already in Africa working for Doctors Without Borders. Panicked, Sam runs away from the waiting room before his RISD interview. Ms. Whitaker recommends Denton University, which has a scientific illustration program. Elsa tells Doug about her intention of starting a haircutting business for autistic children. Doug suggests couple's therapy and Elsa joins him in a shower.|
|17||9||"Ritual-licious"||Ryan Case||Mike Oppenhuizen & D.J. Ryan||September 7, 2018|
|To her annoyance, Sam wakes Casey at 3:15am on her 16th birthday to say "Happy birthday" to her sixteen times, the first of his many traditions for her birthday. In the afternoon, Casey goes driving for the first time, with Doug accompanying her. Meanwhile, Elsa has arranged a big surprise party for Casey, though Evan is concerned, as Casey wanted something small. Zahid works out that Sam has been kissing somebody and assumes it was Paige. As Casey arrives home, she is upset by the surprise party and refuses to do the next of Sam's rituals, finding the "Ickle Bickle" gorilla figurine that's been hidden in the house. He fears this will cause the death of his tortoise, after finding his previous tortoise dead the last time they failed to complete all the traditions, so he persuades Casey to do it anyway. Zahid lets slip to Paige that Sam has been kissing somebody. Paige confronts Sam about him kissing someone and then subsequently presumably leaves. As the girls from Clayton Prep arrive at the party, Casey angrily demands her mother get everyone to leave; as she storms upstairs, Sam tells her they need to look for the Ickle Bickle, but she snaps at him. Elsa talks to Sam about apologising to Casey, but he finds the Ickle Bickle and runs off. Izzie comes to Casey's room to apologize and asks if they can "forehead promise" that they won't let boys disrupt their friendship again; they do so and move to kiss each other, but Elsa interrupts. They go downstairs for cake, where Casey is happy to find that Elsa sent most of the guests home, and she kisses Evan in a display to Izzie, which successfully makes her jealous and uncomfortable. Sam gifts Casey a comic he made, the last part of his ritual, and tells her that he got accepted to Denton; the two reconcile. Meanwhile, Doug goes to confront Nick after being unable to get him out of his head all day.|
|18||10||"Ernest Shackleton's Rules for Survival"||Ken Whittingham||Robia Rashid||September 7, 2018|
|Doug punches Nick in the face outside the bar. Sam gives Julia an invitation to his graduation and they talk briefly. Elsa tells Doug that she is starting to get haircut appointments through her website. Sam tells his family that they need to stop helping him so he can become "fully independent". Paige is annoyed to learn through Sam that the girl he has been kissing smudged the paint on her bench. Elsa talks to Casey, telling her about a sexual encounter she had with a woman, attempting to comfort Casey and express acceptance of her sexuality. Casey later has sex with Evan. Paige works out that Sam has been kissing Bailey. Sam becomes upset upon seeing that classmates have written offensive terms over his picture in the school yearbook (which goes to show they are ableists). He asks the student distributing yearbooks for a new one; when she refuses, he frustratedly slams his on the table, causing the table to collapse. Back home, Elsa panics when she hears Sam has not turned up to work. She, Doug, and Casey find Sam at the aquarium. The next day, as they drive to his graduation, Elsa discovers a flyer in Doug's bag from the bar Nick works at. She works out that he punched Nick and asks him if he can ever forgive what she did, but Sam interrupts. At the ceremony, Paige remains in her seat when she is due to give her valedictorian speech, as her voice is too hoarse to speak after viciously defending Sam at school over the yearbook incident. Sam delivers the speech for her, with frequent interjections to comment on it. Later, Sam tells Paige that he thinks he is in love with her. Doug talks about not being able to move past Elsa's affair to a woman from his peer group. Casey talks to Izzie about having had sex with Evan, but the two then hold hands.|
Season 3 (2019)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|19||1||"Best Laid Plans"||Ryan Case||Robia Rashid||November 1, 2019|
|On their way to the school lock-in, Paige decides she is willing to get back together with Sam for the summer. They then find out they missed the lock-in. Meanwhile, Elsa accidentally sets a mattress on fire after smoking. Sam gets worried about college after a girl with autism tells him that four out of five autistic students fail to graduate within four years. Elsa is annoyed at Doug for spending time with a woman in his study group, Megan. At dinner, Sam discusses a good first day at Denton, but Casey has to be rushed to the hospital with appendicitis. Paige wants to have sex with Sam, but the pair are interrupted on several occasions before they can start. Their last opportunity before Paige goes to work as a camp counsellor is on Friday, after they have dinner at the Olive Garden. Stressed at how Doug is still not discussing things with her, Elsa consults a heavily-pregnant Julia for advice. At the Olive Garden, Sam realizes the date and panics, as he has missed the first day of registration for classes. After talking to Casey, he apologizes to Paige for fleeing from their date. He manages to get all of the courses he wanted except one.|
|20||2||"Standing Sam"||Rebecca Asher||Theresa Mulligan Rosenthal||November 1, 2019|
|Sam goes to orientation and meets Zahid outside of the school. Zahid tells him to "reinvent himself" in college. At orientation, Sam’s humor helps him to quickly make some new friends. Sam decides to reinvent himself, skips a meeting and decides he wants to live in the dorms. At couple’s therapy Doug and Elsa talk about their relationship issues, which Elsa started with one lie and continued from there. Izzie and Casey continue to hang out; Casey slaps a milkshake Nate offers as an apology into his face. Doug helps Megan when her autistic daughter Amber has a panic attack. Sam and Casey go and look at Sam’s dorm and meet his roommate, who is coincidentally called Sam G. Sam decides not to live in the dorm, discovering it would be overstimulating and too unfamiliar after losing his just-newly-found friends. He still spends some time with Sam G before he leaves, though. Megan texts Doug and he lies to Elsa about from whom the text is.|
|21||3||"Cocaine Pills and Pony Meat"||Victor Nelli Jr.||Bob Smiley||November 1, 2019|
|Sam begins classes and starts to become a little overwhelmed by the lack of routine and a strict schedule. Doug and Megan start hanging out more often. Elsa visits Julia who has had her baby. Izzie and Casey hope to get scholarships for UCLA. Casey tells Evan about her desires to go to UCLA and asks him if he would go, but he seems hesitant and awkward when Izzie‘s name is brought up. Sam starts using his phone to keep him on schedule and has trouble sleeping because of the big changes in his life. Sam oversleeps and while he’s running late to class, Sam G runs into him and hurts his head. Sam G comforts him once again, though. Elsa goes to Megan to bring back a jacket and they have a quick heart to heart about their children. Doug talks Sam into going to disability services for accommodations; Sid shows him around and he is pleased with the environment of the offices, he even meets Jasper, one of the other kids from the support group at Denton, working there. Casey upsets Evan by gifting him a book about finding direction in life, but they make up. The next day, Sam gets to his class and now has a note taker.|
|22||4||"Y.G.A.G.G."||Wendey Stanzler||Mike Oppenhuizen||November 1, 2019|
|Evan’s dog Dewey is sick, but the dog is with his dad in New Hampshire. Sam can’t find his pencil and accuses a classmate, Abby, of stealing it. Abby invites Sam to a party/"art jam", but he turns down the invitation. Doug finds out Elsa stopped by at Megan’s place. Zahid talks Sam into going to the party. Elsa organizes a clothing drive, which Izzie shows up to. Casey, Evan, and Beth go to New Hampshire, and Evan’s father and his wife instantly rub Evan the wrong way. Paige tells Sam to go to the party, but don’t be like the "dorm rat", a girl who was found during a party eating cheese in the corner because she was so hungry. This "dorm rat" doesn’t have any friends and eats a microwaved burrito by herself every night. Evan finds out that Dewey is fine and that his dad only called him there to get his signature to withdraw money from his college fund. Casey yells at him and Beth steals Dewey. Sam decides to attend the art jam; he is pleased to find it is a calm environment and enjoys himself, but Zahid is bored. Zahid meets Gretchen by dumpster outside of the party and they smoke while listening to Miley Cyrus. Izzie and Elsa bond over their difficult childhoods. Evan’s car breaks down and Doug helps him, suggesting to Evan the idea of becoming an EMT. Paige turns out to be the "dorm rat" she described, given that she throws a burrito at a schoolmate who teases her.|
|23||5||"Only Tweed"||Victor Nelli Jr.||D.J. Ryan||November 1, 2019|
|Evan wants to go on a ride along with Doug, but is worried about the EMT test, and Paige has a hearing for throwing a scolding hot burrito at a schoolmate. Zahid and Gretchen have a 68 hour date. In class, Sam’s professor says that if they don’t speak during the seminar, they will fail. He is pressured and fails, but his professor lets him write a paper. He still worries about the next seven assignments. Elsa meets her mom and they barely speak. Paige decides to have a dinner party (via Skype) and invites their friends, while Evan bails out on his EMT ride along. Izzie is Casey’s "date" for the dinner party because Evan has work. Zahid and Gretchen show up. Paige and Casey get annoyed by Gretchen’s behavior and her antagonizing Sam. Izzie yells at Evan for not showing up to Doug’s ride along, Paige accidentally sees Zahid’s penis, Gretchen tells Evan that she thought Izzie and Casey were a couple, Paige doesn’t get expelled from school over the burrito, and Sam gets a “C” on his ethics paper, which isn't that good but is still a vast improvement. Zahid tells Sam that Gretchen was probably antagonizing him to guide him in the right direction, which Sam denies. Sam gets a “C” on the next seminar and finds Paige at his house, having dropped out of college. Casey finds out that Evan has dyslexia, why he is afraid of tests and didn't go to the ride along, and Elsa’s mom arrives at the house.|
|24||6||"The Essence of a Penguin"||Michael Medico||Mike Oppenhuizen & Lauren Moon||November 1, 2019|
|Paige tells about her challenges at college and her vice of online shopping. She describes accumulating over $6,000 in debt, buying a canoe, and eating cheese in the corner during a party. Sam gets praised for his technical drawing of Stumpy, the penguin, but then the next assignment throws out the rules and challenges him to draw “the essence" of a penguin. Paige is too busy with job interviews and world domination to help Sam discover the essence of a penguin, but Zahid offers to drive him to the aquarium regularly if he does inventory at work. Casey is still angry at Izzie for how she treated Evan at the party; Evan tries another ride along. Gretchen convinces Zahid to give up gluten. Izzie doesn’t show up to school and doesn’t message Casey, which worries her, and Casey hears of a time when Izzie didn’t show up to school for three weeks. Evan goes on the ride along with Doug and consoles a child while Doug treats the child's mother, who was the driver of the vehicle in the accident they were responding to. Sam still struggles with the penguin’s "essence", and while at the aquarium notices Stumpy’s irregular behavior. He notifies the penguin trainer, who discovers Stumpy has a parasitic infection, thus saving her life. Casey gets a message from Izzie, but still brings her clothes from Elsa. She finds out that Izzie’s mom abruptly abandons Izzie and her other children from time to time. Elsa visits Paige and comforts her with her challenges. Sam discovers the essence of a penguin while Izzie apologizes to Casey, saying she was jealous of Evan, and stays the night.|
|25||7||"Shrinkage"||Annabel Oakes||Bob Smiley & Nicole Betz||November 1, 2019|
|Casey sleeps nexts to Izzie, but is tense and nervous the whole night and can’t sleep. She avoids Izzie the next day. In ethics class, Sam doesn’t have trouble answering ethics questions (train problem and bank robber/orphans). Sam discovers Gretchen stole a turquoise Fitbit from the Techtropolis he works at (noticeable in the previous episode). Izzie walks in on Evan and Casey kissing. Sam presents the evidence of Gretchen stealing the Fitbit to Zahid, and Zahid tells him to mark it down as shrinkage. Sam has a moral conundrum. Julia struggles with the challenges of being a single mom and "crumping" (crying while pumping); she invites Sam to a gathering for people on the spectrum at the university. Casey struggles at practice because of her feelings for Izzie and gets sent home early. Doug goes to a Fleetwood Mac concert with Megan, which angers Elsa. Sam tells Zahid that Gretchen is a "parasite" and has changed him, but Zahid argues that his relationship is true love and is so much deeper than what Sam has experienced with Paige. Sam tells his manager Bob of Gretchen’s theft, getting her banned and putting Zahid on very thin ice. Zahid tells Sam they are no longer friends and Elsa tells Doug she thinks they should separate. Izzie looks for Casey to confront her about her avoidance and finds Casey running the track at night in distress, and the two kiss.|
|26||8||"Road Rage Paige"||Ken Whittingham||Robia Rashid||November 1, 2019|
|Izzie and Casey meet Evan’s sister, bringing Casey back to the harsh reality of her confusion between her feelings for Izzie and relationship with Evan. Casey asks Doug how he wishes he found out about Elsa’s infidelity, and Doug tells her that he would have wanted to hear it directly from Elsa’s mouth. In a flashback to Sam’s first day at Techtropolis, we see how Zahid helped him out and they became instant friends. In the present day, Zahid is still angry at Sam. Sam gets bad advice from multiple people about Paige, but receives good advice from Evan. Casey and Izzie continue to flirt. Evan asks Casey what is wrong, and Casey lies to him. Sam asks Paige if everything is okay, and then the two of them have sex at the dorm. Casey later tearfully tells Evan about her and Izzie's kiss and Evan breaks up with her. Sam tells Evan he is his new Zahid and finds out Evan and Casey broke up. Doug finds Evan sitting in his car in their driveway, he tells Doug he doesn’t know how to leave, because then it’s real, and Doug then tells Elsa to take the divorce slow and not tell the kids.|
|27||9||"Sam Takes a Walk"||Robia Rashid||Robia Rashid & Annie Mebane||November 1, 2019|
|Elsa and Casey have a mani-pedi and Casey has a voiceover about how she misses Evan, while Sam misses Zahid and sees him all around. Paige wants to talk about their alone time, but Sam has to do an art project about something political, which he decides to do on the death of baby Magellanic penguins due to human activity. Sam catches Casey and Izzie kissing. Casey asks if he is fine with it and he compares them to two male penguins, Sphen and Magic, and their baby Sphengic. Sam continues to draw dead and dying bloody baby penguins, but something is still wrong. Elsa and Doug fight, while Casey shows Izzie a drawing of Sphen and Magic. Casey and Izzie have a confrontation because she doesn’t want to broadcast their relationship and Izzie apologizes and asks to go slow. Paige checks up on Sam, making sure the stovetop isn’t leaking gas, and angers him. Sam finds Zahid’s shirt, brings it to him at work, and accidentally sets it on fire and sets off the sprinklers. Casey and Izzie go to a party and while dancing Izzie feels that Casey is getting too close, and Izzie winds up making out with a guy at the party. Elsa and Doug play “Sam Takes a Walk” and talk about their relationship. Sam notices his wet drawings from the sprinklers, and realized that’s what was missing. Casey, angry at Izzie, wins her heat and avoids Izzie. Sam apologizes to Bob for setting the shirt on fire. Bob apologizes to Sam because it is partly Bob’s fault for him hooking up the gas while he is living there during his marital problems. Sam finds out Zahid eloping with Gretchen, but it is on the same date as his Nursing exam, which Sam promised not to let him screw up.|
|28||10||"Searching for Brown Sugar Man"||Ken Whittingham||Robia Rashid||November 1, 2019|
|Sam searches for Zahid with Abby (from the art jam) and Izzie kisses Casey in public at school. Coach Crowley tells Casey that UCLA is looking at her, but she is gonna have to really push for it and get rid of crazy drama. Paige, Abby, Sam, and Casey (wearing a biking helmet thanks to Paige's continous raging on the road) go to where they believe Zahid is getting married with a canoe on top of Paige’s car. Doug goes to the work trip with Megan in New York, and Elsa realizes she backed off too much. Gretchen dumps Zahid when her ex shows up to the wedding, and Sam finds Zahid at the batting cage, taking softballs to the chest. Sam takes a ball to stop Zahid from taking a softball directly to the chest without a thick outer coat. Casey and Paige speak about their troubles. Megan and Doug talk about their feeling for each other, but Doug is still unsure of what is going on with his marriage and they kiss. Sam and Zahid make up. Elsa leaves in a hurry to stop Doug’s affair and crashes into Doug’s car in the driveway. They share a kiss. Zahid passes his mid-term and Paige sells the canoe to some random person online (which happens to be Sam). Casey talks to Evan, who tells her to go to UCLA and they have some closure. It turns out Sam skipped his midterm for ethics to help Zahid with his nursing midterm, and Doug starts wearing his ring again. Paige gets an offer to be a nanny, and it turns out to be for Julia. Casey decides to work hard for UCLA as well as continuing to date Izzie. Sam and Zahid decide to become roomies.|
Background and production
The coming-of-age series, originally known as Antarctica, was created and written by Robia Rashid, who previously worked on How I Met Your Mother and The Goldbergs as a producer. For a more accurate portrayal, she consulted with Michelle Dean, a California State University professor who worked at UCLA's Center for Autism Research and Treatment. Gilchrist said in an interview for Vulture, "[Rashid] wrote the script. We talked a ton and I did research and I watched movies and I read books". The supporting character Christopher is played by Anthony Jacques, who is autistic.
On September 13, 2017, Atypical was renewed for a ten-episode second season. David Finch, who is autistic, joined the writing team. Eight autistic actors from The Miracle Project have supporting roles in the second season as members of a peer support group which Sam joins, and other autistic actors play neurotypical characters. Executive producer Mary Rohlich also said the show was "bringing in more female directors and female diversity": seven of the ten episodes were directed by women and half of the writing team were female.
On February 24, 2020, Atypical was renewed for a fourth and final season. The season will consist of ten episodes and is set to premiere in 2021.
Season one was released on August 11, 2017, and consisted of eight episodes. The second season was released on September 7, 2018, and consisted of 10 episodes. The third season was released on November 1, 2019, and consisted of 10 episodes.
At Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the first season received a score of 66, based on 20 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews", and a score of 77% at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.32 out of 10. The acting, including Gilchrist's performance, was generally well-received, although Gilchrist's portrayal received criticism from some quarters for being inaccurate and stereotypical. The lack of autistic people in the cast was also questioned.
Sara Luterman of The New York Times writes that the second season improves on the first. Sam's decision to go to art school deviates from common depictions of autism, and his autism is no longer "the source of [his family's] misery". Luterman praises the involvement of more autistic people as writers and actors, but criticizes that Sam's misogyny is unaddressed and that he is "still portrayed as more of a checklist than a person". Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times lauds the show's continuing "unique perspective, sharp humor and empathy", and describes the show as a "wonderfully atypical family drama" with "many moving and awkward moments".
In a negative review, Jen Chaney of Vulture writes that the show "loses some of its focus" in the second season, such as with the "unnecessary side plot" of Julia, an "underdeveloped side character", or by attempting to make Zahid a "lovably wacky sidekick". Chaney writes that the show's situations "often seem contrived or aim blatantly for the easy joke", and criticizes scenes between Doug and Elsa which "don't seem reflective of actual human behavior". However, Chaney praises Lundy-Paine's acting, which switches between "understanding and exasperation", and Gilchrist's "yard-stick straight" acting.
The reviews for season 3 have been overwhelmingly positive. On Rotten Tomatoes season 3 has a score of 100% based on reviews from 6 critics. Merrill Barr of Forbes writes "Season three of Atypical is the show’s boldest to date and truly feels like it has reached its stride." According to him, the days where everyone still had to find their voices are over. "Now, the show just gets to live and breathe as it explores its unique story in ever-evolving and fascinating ways." Holly Edwards of Film Inquiry concludes that "the dramatic and comedic beats almost always hit the right notes and know when a shift in tone is required." She calls the show a "step up from many shows of the same variety and a worthwhile viewing experience."
|2018||Satellite Awards||Best Musical or Comedy Series||Atypical||Nominated|||
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