Buzzwords. Remember those?
For those of you not ofay with the word it means:
“A word or phrase, often an item of jargon, that is fashionable at a particular time or in a particular context”.
Sadly, buzzwords fade out over time.
But recently a new buzzword has entered the frame, and it’s not a new word. It’s been around for some time, took a small break, and is now making a comeback.
The word is Autism (Congratulations if you guessed it correctly!)
In the past year, two new TV shows have sprung up.
One was A-typical which garnered a mixed reaction from the autism community, The second is currently screening on Network 7 – The Good Doctor. After some web searching I found out that The Good Doctor is actually based on a Korean TV show, but has been given a makeover and Americanised. The creator of the show was also behind House, another TV Doctors series. And really, The Good Doctor is basically House but with a central character who is a lot younger – that’s about it character-change wise.
As soon as The Good Doctor began airing, social media was alight with #THEGOODDOCTOR trending, and the show was featured on a TV show where we watch people watching TV. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about any of these shows, however are we just ‘en-trend’? Are we just a buzzword that will soon be forgotten? Will we have had our time in the spotlight and then fade like a forgotten film star? Yet again we are reliant on the Americans to showcase people on the autism spectrum.
Why haven’t we embraced this in Australia and began making such TV shows? Going by the ratings, The Good Doctor rates at number one each week with just over a million viewers, so the interest and appetite for knowledge is there.
However, I do have some observations about The Good Doctor.
The show is very formulaic, and by that I mean it’s the same set up story-wise as House was. Sick patient comes into the ER/operating theatre and no one but Shaun Murphy can figure out what’s wrong with said sick person. This is the exact same procedure House used in every single episode.
But enough of my waffling and back to my point.
Why can’t we have a more urban gritty drama or a comedy? Why do we have to coat things in so much sugar that it almost becomes a Disney version of something quite serious? Because unlike life we can’t pick and choose which traits and characteristics we are going to be allocated when we are diagnosed as being on the spectrum.
Why are we given the back seat here?
Why isn’t Shaun just allowed to be the brilliant surgeon that he is?
Why does his disability warrant him being demeaned just for the sake of a dramatic sense?
Why isn’t he a CEO? Or a Wall Street tycoon?
Why are we sacrificed on the dramatic slaughter for the sake of a TV show?
Whilst I am grateful we are getting some ‘air time’, at what cost do we suffer at the hands of a TV drama?
They aren’t going to cater for every person on the spectrum granted, but I just feel that we deserve better we deserve to have a more 3 D version of ourselves rather than having to rely on the 1-2 version that we are currently seeing.
I hope that we continue to see autistic people portrayed in film and television and that unlike those buzzwords we don’t become forgotten and fade away.
About Nick McAllister:
Nick McAllister lives in Burns Beach, is a screenwriter, blogger, ABC open contributor and also attends the Saturday writing group at the Peter Cowan Writer’s centre. He is also a digital media facilitator and guest blogger for Autism West.