Last year, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the debut season of this Netflix dramedy. It presented a thoughtful take on autism with a lovable lead and sweet storytelling. The show’s sophomore season doesn’t break any new ground, but it does offer more of the same charm that made the first year so enjoyable.
As expected, Keir Gilchrist is still outstanding as our protagonist Sam Gardner. The hero’s growth continues this year as he’s faced with a host of new challenges, and Gilchrist continues to imbue the character with vulnerability and heart. It’s especially endearing to see Sam explore his prospects for the future; the thought of him attending art school is packed with potential.
The familial drama at the Gardner household continues to take center stage, and although I’m still not a fan of Jennifer Jason Leigh’s performance as Sam’s mother Elsa (something about her turn feels very forced), Michael Rapaport is just as terrific as he was last year as Doug. Unsurprisingly, Brigette Lundy-Paine remains the show’s MVP; Sam’s sister Casey has a surprising arc this year, and it culminates beautifully by the time the season finale comes along.
The season does have one glaring flaw: it insists on keeping Julia around. The character is no longer Sam’s therapist this season, so it makes zero sense that Amy Okuda is still a part of the show (as sweet as she is). Her subplot is completely disposable, and adds absolutely nothing to the season. Why writers… why?
While it never rises to the level of must-see television, Atypical is still a charming enough watch.