Thursday, July 22, 2010

The 3 Top Television Characters with Asperger's Syndrome.

I had so much fun making my first post with a list the other day, I decided to do another one! This list is by no means a complete list. Television and movies are now teeming with Asperger characters. I just don't watch a lot of television, so I'm highlighting the 3 that I know!

1. Dr. Sheldon Cooper, Big Bang Theory

Sheldon is, in my opinion, the best depiction of Asperger's on television. The writers nailed it! The interesting back story is that the writers never intended Sheldon to have Asperger's. But he probably has almost every item off the list of symptoms from my Tuesday post. The character is inspired by a friend of one of the show's creators, so I'm assuming that person might have undiagnosed Asperger's. I wrote a post about this during my early blogging days (about 4 months ago, see here).


2. Max Braverman, Parenthood

Max is a great depiction of a newly diagnosed 8-year-old boy with Asperger's. One of the show's writers has a son with Asperger's, so the writing about the situation is, again, spot-on. I can totally relate to the story threads around this character and how the family is coping with the new diagnosis. It's not uncommon for me to both cry AND laugh during an episode. My only complaint is that the show is on summer hiatus. It gives me great material for my blog (see here, here, here), so I want it to return to television pronto!


3. Jerry Espenson, Boston Legal

Of the three characters, the character of Jerry is the worst portrayal of someone with Asperger's. I don't think the writers really had a grip of what Asperger's was about, other than that the character is socially awkward, but very smart. The most cartoonish aspect of this character was all the tics they gave him, which really didn't seem very Aspergerish, so to speak. In one episode, Jerry thought he also had Tourette's Syndrome, but this was never pursued as a plot device. I think the writers just snuck it in to appease the complaints about the lack of authenticity. So why include Jerry on this list? For primarily two reasons. First, the character really brought attention to Asperger's before it was popular to do so; and second, Christian Clemenson, the talented actor who portrayed Jerry, really brought a lot of heart to a character that could have easily become cartoonish buffoon.


Those are the three portrayals of television characters with Asperger's that I like. Are there any that you like?

24 comments:

  1. my twin brother is borderline asperger's, and also an engineer. sheldon on the big bang theory is my brother to a T.
    brother and i actually sat down to watch an episode of the show together a few months ago, one where sheldon was trying to train leonard's gf like a dog with chocolates. my brother was laughing SO hard, because it seemed like a perfectly good idea to him, too (but at least knows that it's, well, socially wrong).

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  2. I don't watch many tv shows, but I stumbled upon Parenthood through hulu. I love it. And, yes, Max's story is very compelling. I love the honesty.

    I miss it, too.

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  3. I love Sheldon Cooper & I love watching Parenthood! They're both great shows & I agree that they do a great job of portraying Aspergers.

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  4. Your comment was ahead of mine on the 31DBBB post today so I am here to visit. It's amazing to me how many Aspie kids there are out there with blogging moms looking to make a better world for their kids! You have joined a FABULOUS niche! I'll share with you a couple of my favorite moms who share your niche. Sunday of Adventures in Extreme Parenthood http://www.extremeparenthood.com/ (She's doing the Challenge too). And Julie of Foursons http://www.myfourboys.net/ Both wonderful ladies with awesome senses of humor! Wishing you all the best in this challenge and in life!

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  5. I don't watch any of these shows! I will have to get on the bandwagon. I have heard really good things about Parenthood from several different people so I will have to check it out when it comes back on.

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  6. I know they never actually say he is, but Vincent D'Onofrio's character Robert Goren always seemed like he might have Asperger. But I'm not an expert on it by any means..y'alls thoughts?

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  7. Parenthood is a great show and I'm bummed it's on hiatus too. I was very touched by their portrayal of the family going through the recognition and diagnosis of Aspergers in their son. Good to hear that they are doing a accurate depiction.

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  8. I love Big Bang Theory. Sheldon is hands down one of my favorite television characters.

    Have you seen the movie Adam? I thought it was really good. It's an indie romantic movie about a guy with Asperger's.

    I have several friends with kids with borderline Asperger's, so I am definitely going to refer them to your blog.

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  9. I'm glad you posted a comment on my blog as I was trying to remember your blog site this afternoon after hearing a program on CBC. I have emailed you.

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  10. My favorite is Bones on Bones! They don't say she has aspergers, but she does!

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  11. I don't really watch TV, but I did see an interesting animated feature about a man with Asperger's Syndrome and his penpal. It's called Mary & Max. Definitely an animation for adults.

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  12. Very interesting post. I just became aware of Aspergers in the past year or two. I don't watch television, but I think if they are portraying characters on tv with Aspergers, it must be getting more attention, which has to be good.

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  13. Amanda: I saw that movie too! I highly recommend it as well. I don't think it's widely known. It's a very dark humor. You're right--not for kids at all. Characters in the movies with Asperger's would make a fun post too!

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  14. I don't know about the other shows, but I follow Parenthood and like it very much.
    It's in this way that I came to know Aspergers, never heard about it in Italy, possible?

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  15. I love Sheldon!! I forget that show is on and miss it a lot, but the times I have watched it he is probably my favorite.

    I haven't watched Parenthood before...so no judgment there.

    I loved and miss Boston Legal. That show was so ridiculous and off the hook that it is amazing that they DIDN'T turn sweet lovable Jerry into a buffoon.

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  16. Changeable level of sensory excess can be felt by several children having Aspergers and will be tremendously sensitive to feel, smells, noises and views. So parents should find out such incredible things in children and appreciate them for it.

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  17. Oh, I loved Parenthood. I was so sad when I heard they might axe it! Looks like they decided to keep it though. I really liked all the characters.

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  18. ever watch monk? i often wondered if he was suppossed to be aspergers-like. he has a few qualities and is smart, socially awkward etc..

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  19. What about Reid on Criminal Minds?

    Also, @Kim - Monk is more OCD, he has a lot of emotiona!

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  20. I agree. Reid seems like a very high functioning Aspy to me. Everything from his social awkwardness to his sensitivity to being touched made me think he might be.

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  21. I believe that Robert Goren from Law & Order, CI and Gil Grissom from CSI both were characters with Asperger's traits.

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  22. I have diagnosed Aspergers, and Sheldon as much as I love the character, is an annoying arrogant jerk. He is either a very exaggerated stereotype, or a person plagued with many mental disorders. Adam sucked, Dr. Reid is the best Aspie character. I think you people need to get away from Mozart and the Whale Rainman view of ASD, it will help a lot. See the Temple Grandin movie, or Salmon Fishing in Yemen for good portrayals of ASD's.

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    1. P.S. It is frustrating when Neurtypicals gain such views about people like us. The media seems to want us like that, I do not understand why. I mean it's already hard enough to be different, then you have people expecting you to be Donald Morton, or Sheldon Cooper because some bloggers and others say that's what Aspergers is. Thanks for adding your little bit of making it harder to get a job etc!!!! OMG!!!!!! Sarcasm, I'm not supposed to be able to do that!!!!!

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    2. Anonymous: sorry if this post offended you, it wasn't my intention. I wrote this post back in July 2010 (ack) so it was before the Temple Grandin movie came out. I agree with you--that was a fantastic movie!

      What show is Dr. Reid from? I also haven't heard of Salmon Fishing in Yemen. I'll have to keep an eye out for that one!

      Thanks for taking the time to comment! It's much appreciated.

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