Film and lit crit about disability

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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.

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Hey, I look away from my computer to talk to people. Now I often have to think, "gee, they are expecting me to look away from my computer to talk to them" before I do it and I generally don't look at them for very long, but. . .

The Temperence Brennan character mostly has the social communication symptoms, lack of picking up on social cues and talking in depth about her own areas of interest while missing what other people may be saying, thinking or feeling. I haven't picked up on any routines or repetetive behaviors or non-verbal differences with her beyond that.

I haven't seen Criminal Minds. Brennan has an abusive/neglectful backstory also, and the writing has been inconsistant on if that is the cause of her social struggles or coincidental.

I saw that Sasha Alexander interview too. It's a shame that the producers/writers don't seem to agree with her. Or maybe they will come around.

Also, I see you all over diabetesland and all over disabilityland online. And are one of the few other people I know with diabetes and autism overlap. And I like reading what you have to say in those places. Might I Friend you?

Yes, you may friend me!

Brennan has an abusive/neglectful backstory also, and the writing has been inconsistant on if that is the cause of her social struggles or coincidental.

I remembered another character who is thought to have Asperger's (to the extent that other characters in the show say he has it, though he's never confirmed it) -- Bobby Goren on Law and Order: CI. Goren diagnoses a suspect as having Asperger's, describes the symptoms, and his partner starts saying, "And you know he has it because you have it too?" and others say, "Hey, Goren, is that your long-lost twin?" The interesting thing there is that Goren's mother also has a mental illness, the same as Reid's mother. Both of them have mothers who have schizophrenia.


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