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The Daily Beast: "Hollywood Takes on Autism"

Over at The Daily Beast, you can find my latest piece, entitled "Hollywood Takes on Autism."

The article explores the portrayals of people with autism spectrum disorders in pop culture, from films like Dear John and Adam to television series like Grey's Anatomy, Parenthood, Community, and The Big Bang Theory.

I also talk to some of theses projects' creators--including Community creator Dan Harmon and Parenthood showrunner Jason Katims--about why they are--or aren't--labeling their characters as autistic.

Head to the comments section to be sure and let me know what your take is on this trend and whether it matters or not that these characters are labeled or whether it's the discussion of neurodiversity that their presence creates that's far more important.


Unknown said…
Interesting point to add to your article: the character of Parker on Leverage. According to TV Tropes, show creator John Rogers has said on his blog that she has Asperger's. (I've read said blog,, before, but can't recall exactly where he said that about her.)

And what about Brennan on Bones? I think they haven't officially pegged her, but she's another character that sure seems to have something. (Ditto Zach, but ah...he had other issues.)
Jace Lacob said…

Hart Hanson and Emily Deschanel have made comments to indicate that Brennan "almost has Asperger's" but she doesn't. According to the series, Brennan has a personality trait called alexithymia, which is described as being in "a state of deficiency in understanding, processing, or describing emotions."
Radha said…
Great article!
Glenna Meredith said…
It seems that autism is the cause de jour among show biz folk. It's an interesting trend, and I have to wonder what has prompted this interest.
As a person who works with an autistic child, (he is high functioning), it's hard to realistically portray the many elements of interaction that occur.
So far I haven't seen any characters watching TV while standing or "sitting" on their heads.
Maybe it will help to gain attention to the condition, but I'm guessing the people who drive campaigns for relevancy will get bored with it eventually.
mercygraceword said…
Is the Brick Heck character on 'The Middle' another one of these characters? Some of his traits are similar to my family members who are on the Asperger end of the autism spectrum, but I haven't seen anything that mentions it?

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