Between The Big Bang Theory, Grey’s Anatomy, and Parenthood, autism is totally hot in Hollywood. Or at least Asperger Syndrome, a neurological disorder on the autism spectrum, is. Some television shows and movies handle it well; some don’t.
Last fall Glee botched the introduction of a character named Sugar who had “self-diagnosed Asperger Syndrome” and used it as an excuse for terribly self-absorbed behavior.
“I have self-diagnosed Asperger’s so I can pretty much say whatever I want…I’m pretty much like a diplomat’s daughter”, she said.
Many people in the autism community were less than pleased with the one-dimensional nature of the character, who was seen as perpetuating negative stereotypes. Considering Glee’s sensitive handling of issues like cognitive impairment, what it’s like to be a gay teen, and bullying, the one-note character of Sugar was surprising.
Here’s my take on several of the most popular movies and shows with characters who are autistic, or who have autism-like traits. Some of them are great, some of them are … less great. And some, honestly, are just meh, because the connection to autism isn’t necessarily really there for me.
Note: I have two kids with Asperger Syndrome, but I don’t speak for anyone in the autism community but myself (my kids speak fine for themselves). I’d love to know what shows and movies you love for their portrayal of autism, and which ones you think really missed the boat.
(Photo credits: iStockphoto, Wikimedia Commons)
Related post: But S/he Doesn’t Look Autistic!