The Good Doctor 2017 | Sensory Ninja

Hit or Miss: ABC’s “The Good Doctor”

ABC has launched a new TV drama titled “The Good Doctor.” Being a fan of medical drama shows–and all the exaggerated scenarios–I was looking forward to the season premiere last night.

I had seen a few teasers online but was entirely surprised to find the show’s main character Shaun Murphy—portrayed by Freddi Highmore—a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome. Throughout the episode, the board of directors is shown arguing about employing this young man as a surgical resident, and frequently refer to him as “High Functioning.”

The show was entertaining, however, I struggled with the idea of defining the character (Shaun) as “high functioning.” The world of diagnosing autism has shifted dramatically in the past few years, and terms like “high functioning” and “Aspergers” are no longer used.

I was also a bit annoyed at the behavior of the character. It was like watching the existing medical definition of a child/person with a spectrum disorder, which is disappointing. I have yet to meet any child/person that is a strict definition of anything. I understand the need for acting guidelines and needing to portray a character regarding autism; I just wish it was more natural and not just a check-list of symptoms.

However, I think it is refreshing to mainstream the topic of autism because the more we talk about autism spectrum disorders; the more affluent society will become. I love that the show has the potential to break down those walls and stigmatisms of “labeling” causes.

For me, “The Good Doctor” is not an instant hit; but also not a miss so I’ll give it a couple more episodes before I make that decision.

I would love to discuss any thoughts you have if you were able to see the Pilot episode.

*a blogger I have come to love,  Neurodivergent Rebel posted a great article about inclusive autistic traits. Not only did she cover the most common problems, she also has some thoughtful solutions. If Hollywood wants to use a checklist for character development, this is a great place to start.


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