Film and lit crit about disability

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Asperger's, or lack of same, on TV
autistic spectrum beauty
rainbow_goddess wrote in crip_crit
There are many TV characters who people suspect of having Asperger's Syndrome -- Maura Isles in Rizzoli and Isles; Spencer Reid in Criminal Minds; Dr. Brennan in Bones; Sheldon in The Big Bang Theory. Yet even when they show all the signs, none of them is identified as actually having Asperger's, other than a brief throwaway line by an UNSUB on Criminal Minds that mentioned Reid as being on the autism spectrum.

The only time I can recall an adult character on primetime TV was actually identified as having Asperger's, Jerry on Boston Legal, his Asperger characteristics were exaggerated to ridiculous levels, he was turned into comic relief, and they conflated Asperger's with other conditions such as Tourettes Syndrome and implied that it is common for people with Asperger's to have a sexual fixation on objects when a girlfriend of Jerry's left him because she "fell in love with an iPhone."

I'm wondering why the characters are given all of these Asperger-like characteristics but not said to have Asperger's. Is it because writers think that all scientists are geeky/nerdy/socially awkward? Is it because if the character is suddenly identified as having AS, then the writers/producers are afraid that they won't be able to poke fun at the character anymore because "he/she has a disability"? Are they afraid that the audience won't like the character anymore? Is it just a lack of awareness -- not enough people know what Asperger's is, so they won't use the word in the show?

It really puzzles me why so many characters are given characteristics that are so obviously Asperger-like yet the producers of the show won't use the actual identification.

  • 1
I agree with Dr. Brennan and Zach Addy but not Lance Sweets.

The people my age (mid-30s) who have been diagnosed were all evaluated as adults, mostly because we were seeking answers about ourselves or having continued problems functioning at work or graduate school. Since Asperger's wasn't labeled as a diagnosis until 1994, most of us either didn't come to attention earlier or did but were labled with other things (ADHD, depression, anxiety, just weird) So for a TV character our age to have an Aspergers diagnosis, either the character themself or those around them need to believe there is a problem and seek out a professional evaluation. (Evaluations can also be hard to find and expensive, although expensive is not a barrier for either Temperance Brennan or Maura Isles, at least.)

Except for one episode I can recall where Dr. Brennan asks Dr. Sweets to help her read people better, she generally isn't written as percieving herself as having a problem

  • 1
?

Log in