‘Inclusive shows’ fall short of purpose leaving many behind

Inclusiveness and exclusiveness on Tv

Nicole Clifford, Staff Writer

The TV show Atypical on Netflix is a new show that has incorporated the autism spectrum disorder in an educational way for viewers. Atypical has LGTBQIA+ representation, making it a very informative and inclusive show while also making it all extremely exclusive.

Atypical has shown to be an extremely popular show on Netflix, receiving an 87 percent likable rating from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes. Whether or not Netflix viewers have watched it, people still have either heard or seen clips from the popular show due to the number of times Netflix has promoted it. Many viewers consider themselves fans due to its overall inclusive and educational content. 

“Despite its flaws, I feel like it is a good show and is executed nicely when it comes to teenage life,” stated Alejandra Veras, a sophomore at Palm Beach Central.

One of the reasons the show has received such positive feedback is because it portrays a realistic view of how life is for certain groups of people like the LGTBQIA+ community and people with autism. TV shows often struggle to correctly show how life is for teenagers in school, being too unrealistic in the standards they set. Between shows such as Riverdale, Teen Wolf, and iCarly, students rarely see much accurate coverage of their teenage lives. Atypical is promoting people to be themselves as viewers from any age can watch this show and relate or become an ally.

“I enjoy that the show focuses on people with autism and it helps to show that they really are ‘normal’ even if they have a disability,” expressed Veras. “They also focus on the sister of the main character and her sexuality, which helps make people who are a part of the LGTBQIA+ community feel included and ‘normal.’” 

A plethora of students at any high school struggle to find acceptance and support with their disabilities or sexuality. Atypical is a show that brings those students both support and acceptance in an entertaining and educational way. 

The Good Doctor is another show that was made to be realistic and inclusive towards people with disabilities. The main character has autism and the show revolves around his daily struggle to be taken seriously in his career because of his disorder, representing other people with autism who have these everyday struggles.

When asked about The Good Doctor, junior Ashton Harris called it “inclusive” and “autism-friendly.”

However, despite how inclusive these shows seem to be, many people speculate that they are not what they seem. As Freddie Highmore, the actor who plays Dr. Shaun Murphy in the Good Doctor, and Keir Gilchrist the actor how plays Sam in Atypical, don’t have autism in real life. This causes the show to be exclusive because it is not a real-life accurate representation, just acting done through research, not experience.

“If you think that someone who’s not autistic can act autistic better than someone who is autistic you’re wrong,” said Youtuber and Tik Toker Paige Layle from a review she made on her channel.

There is also the movie Sia produced called Music, released in February 2021. This movie centers around a girl with autism, but many people have called out Music saying it is ableist and inaccurate. The movie has an overall rating of 8  percent on Rotten Tomatoes and has been called out by many people on all different platforms. 

Actress, Maddie Ziegler, played the main character Music, who is a nonverbal teenager with autism. This made many people wonder why Sia would not cast someone who is actually on the autism spectrum instead.

“I believe that it was not inclusive as much as they say because overall it’s kind of an ableist and it mocks the community,” stated Maddox Fornataro a junior at PBC. “Ziegler even was uncomfortable with her role but I believe Sia refused to work without her.”

Fornataro basically summarized the majority opinion from viewers about the movie. Critics have found it “mocking,” “angering,” and “uncomfortable” for watchers because it does not show accuracy or support for the autism spectrum disorder community like it did in TV shows The Good Doctor and Atypical. The movie Music was expected to be inclusive and educational but came out to be inaccurate and mocking towards people with autism.

“You can’t act autistic without making it look like a mockery. Especially with the kinds of things Music, the character, struggles with,” elaborated Paige Layle. “You cannot portray that and not make it look like a mockery, also if you’re saying that anyone can act autistic, ‘it’s just acting’, you need to recognize your own ableism.”

It is very important for television shows and movies to show inclusiveness. Everyone deserves to feel seen and included, especially when they have grown up feeling alone and misunderstood. With the inclusiveness and educational content from shows like The Good Doctor and Atypical, society is making the right steps to representing and welcoming all different groups.

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