As I was Facebook chatting with Alysia from Try Defying Gravity, we got to discussing one of our favorite television shows, Glee. We are both Gleeks (much as I hate that term) and were both eager for the start of the new season.
The first episode this season introduced a new character, Sugar Motta. Sugar claims she has self-diagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome.
I usually have such high respect for Glee. I feel they treat the problems and sheer suckiness of high school with dignity and humor. And being a former theater major, I get a kick from the musical escapades, auto-tune and all. And it was only their high notes from the past that kept me from changing the channel and deleting the series from my DVR.
I figure I’ll see where they take Sugar’s character, but I feel like they’ve “got some ‘splainin to do”. Sugar is offensive and brash, but frankly doesn’t come across as being on the Autism Spectrum at all. I’m sure I’m not the first (or the last) parent or Aspie to be mad at Glee.
And while we are on the subject of Aspie’s on television, let’s go ahead and talk about Max in Parenthood. The #1 most common question I hear when I tell people Jett has Asperger’s is “Do you watch that show Parenthood? It’s really great, and it has a kid with Asperger’s.”
Until last night I had watched Parenthood exactly one and a half times. The series premiere and half of the next episode. On their very first episode (which J and I were really looking forward to since we love Peter Krause from Six Feet Under) they introduced Max in school wearing a costume, and totally misbehaving. I turned to J at that moment and said “they are going to give that kid Asperger’s.” Sure enough, they did. And since we were in the middle of our own diagnosis and grief/coping, I elected not to watch it on tv. It was happening in my house, and at the time I sure didn’t see that as entertainment.
In the same Facebook conversation about Sugar Motta, Parenthood came up. I was surprised to hear my friend watches the show. So, in her honor, I gave it another try. It’s still pretty painful. I can see the similarities between Jett and Max, and also between myself and Max’s mom. When the mom on TV “stalked” her kid on the playground to see if he was playing with anyone, and found him sitting by himself I could just cry. I was that mom last year, and really all the years before that. It didn’t help that we lived just a few doors down from the school and I drove by the playground every time I had an errand.
So yeah, still not totally entertaining to me. Still makes me cry. The show is really well written though, and that actor is a genius.
Speaking of genius… want to know the best portrayal of Asperger’s on TV? In my small opinion, that would be Dr. Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory. The show has never defined the character as being on the spectrum, but it just seems so obvious. And it’s really funny. Laugh out loud, pee your pants kind of funny, especially if you grew up a geek like me.
Sugar Motta irritates me, Max makes me cry, and Sheldon Cooper makes me laugh. That may actually sum up my experience with Asperger’s Syndrome in real life, too.