I’ve gotten several messages about the new NBC series Hannibal, based on cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lector and other characters from the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon. Some have been elated about an autistic hero. Others have been apoplectic about negative stereotypes wrongly associating autism and violence.
It’s interesting that both the executive producers of Heroes have gone on to autism-related shows. Tim Kring did Touch, which I hate. Bryan Fuller is doing this one, which, based on the pilot, I sort of love, even though I understand why other autistic people may hate it.
I want to write a little bit about The New Normal, before the season finale tomorrow night. As is always the case for me with producer Ryan Murphy’s work, I love some things about the series and hate others. I love seeing a gay couple at the heart of a television show, but I wish they did not remind me so much of other couples in previous Murphy series, mostly the doctors in Nip/Tuck, who weren’t literally a gay couple (but totally were) and the nasty gay ghosts in last season’s American Horror Story, who were a prescient parody of the sweetsy-poo dads-to-be in The New Normal. And this is silly, but I wish Murphy would break his habit of casting his gay couples with one gay actor, who plays the sort of feminine one, and a more attractive straight actor, who plays the sort of masculine one.
I don’t know who this show is for. It seems to be for children, with its after school special lessons, simplistic plots, and aggressively lovable cast of characters. But then it gets so raunchy (like that reference to that real picture of a real actor’s genitals) that I would not let young kids watch it. I guess its for middle school kids who are super sophisticated in terms of their understanding of sexuality (or unusually clueless about it).
And the Sue Sylvester, nasty older blonde lady is so played out. I like Ellen Barkin, but it would be the best thing for her and the show if she were not on it next year.
I have appreciated some of the messages the show has sent, especially when it included disabled people and their kids in a montage about everyone’s right to have a family and find love.
Last week’s episode caught me by surprise by illuminating one aspect of the difficulty some people might have with autistic adults as role models.
It's a big Aspergers TV night.
The Big Bang Theory has its season premiere on CBS. You can watch a clip here. It's Howard in space talking to his mother.
David Finch, an actual person actually diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, will also be featured in a segment of NBC's Rock Center that I don't think I will be fan of. The preview seems to reinforce the idea that the problems that autistic people have in relationships are always due to their autism, and that neurotypical spouses are victims, not partners who share some blame when things go wrong:
But it wasn’t so nice for Kristen. While she took care of the house and their two children, daughter Emily and son Parker, David was fixated on himself. When things didn’t go exactly as planned, he’d obsess endlessly. It happened one Thanksgiving when there was garlic in the mashed potatoes. According to David, garlic didn’t belong in the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner.
“I would sit there and I would complain about it,” David recounted. “And I'd bring it up constantly to Kristen. And then she would get on my case, because she would be very confused. She thinks I look like a baby and I think this is completely unfair, but I don't know how else to react. And so that would set me off.”
In recalling the incident, Kristen said, “I’m thinking how am I going to do this the rest of my life?”
I'm also not sure I think Howard Stern is the best communicator for people with Aspergers to study.
Maybe it will look better when I see the whole thing.
I was reading the Autism Speaks Challenging Behaviors Toolkit (thanks to Laura Shumaker), and it made me think of this old Kids in the Hall sketch.
When I was a kid, it was easy for me to act like the guy in this video-- fixate on something someone has told me NEVER to do and be unable to control my compulsion to do it. It was developing confidence in myself and having enough experience to work things out that allowed me to stop. I love this video as a teacher because it drives home the importance of telling kids what you want them to do, rather than yelling at them about what not to do.
This sketch also painfully reminds myself of my difficulties with learning some kinds of things and making the same mistake over and over.
And makes me laugh about it.
Community, Parenthood, and The Big Bang Theory were all recognized when the 64th Primetime Emmy nominations were announced this morning. And Touch, thank goodness, was not.
The most exciting nomination for me is Mayim Bialik as Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress for her work as Amy Farrah Fowler on TBBT. Jim Persons was nominated again for playing Sheldon Cooper-- he won the Emmy for Leading Comedy Actor in both 2010 and 2012. The show is also nominated as Outstanding Comedy Series for the second year in a row.
I would have liked to see a nomination specifically for Dan Harmon, Community's fired creator, but it is great to see the show finally recognized. And it is for the Chris McKenna writing my favorite episode-- "Remedial Chaos Theory."
Parenthood also got its first nomination, for Jason Ritter as Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series for his work as Mark Cyr.