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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I started reading the book series somewhere in the middle, and the ones that I read at that time were very Maura-centric and I thought that Jane was a very minor character. I was surprised when I went back and read The Surgeon to find that Maura wasn't in at all and Jane was the main character. Then I read The Mephisto Club and it was so downright BIZARRE that it turned me off Tess Gerritsen's books till I started watching the TV series. (Alas, Tess Gerritsen was in town at a mystery writer's conference and I didn't find out about it till it was too late to get a ticket. I'd have loved to pick her brain about that book.)

There are some characters on TV whom I definitely think have Asperger's, and then there are some whom I think have some Aspergian characteristics but maybe not enough for a diagnosis, or they're on the spectrum but at the far end, so to speak. I think Spencer definitely has Asperger's, but for Maura it's more subtle. She has some characteristics but not all of them.

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