Atypical Season 2
by Mia Sommer
‘Atypical’ is back for a second season, with more dramatic moments for the Gardner family, as toothbrushes are misplaced, art portfolios get stolen, and holes open in walls and relationships. Full of surprises as well as loveable, relatable, and wonderfully weird characters, season two is well-structured, with a captivating balance of tension and humour, and a wealth of thought-provoking topics and moments.
For a comedy, ‘Atypical’ deals with some heavy and highly sensitive issues, beautifully balanced with lighter, heartwarming moments, evoking a whole range of emotions from the viewer in each episode. The humour is often pure, genuine, and original, arising in quiet, unexpected moments. There are no dramatic pauses or bouts of canned laughter to alert you to the funniest moments here. Rather, you are left to enjoy them on your own terms, to be delighted by odd turns of phrase, brilliant compositions of scenes and characters, and the magical humour of Sam’s thoughts; which can transform therapists into rabbits and friends into whales.
The comedic action often relies on the awkward interactions between the characters and their peers, but it is very rarely the sort of toe-curling second-hand embarrassment that so many other comedies over-use. Rather, there is a beautifully relatable and realistic touch to the awkwardness of every exchange, which makes it moving and endearing rather than unbearable to watch. The only squabbles I had was with Elsa’s persistent, manic behaviour, which was exhausting in season one as well. She is perhaps the hardest character for me to sympathise with, though I remember it being easier in the first season. However, the show wouldn’t be interesting if all characters were immediately and consistently likeable, and I applaud Robia Rashid’s achievement of creating and portraying so many varied and unique kinds of individuals. It is so easy to fall back on tired tropes and stereotypes when writing a family comedy drama series, but I consistently find ‘Atypical’ to be highly original and mostly adept at sidestepping or subverting clichés and predictable storylines.
The greatest strength of this season lies in proving that normalcy is a fabrication, and that there is no shame or disability in being different. Each character is odd in their own way, but they all manage to find a way to come together to love and support each other in a story that is sweet and enthralling, yet simultaneously original and familiar. It is honest and challenging, and just all around wonderful.