The Good Doctor is a show about Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon who has savant syndrome, he relocates from a quiet country life to join the surgical unit at the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital a move strongly supported by his mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman. Having survived a troubled childhood, Shaun is alone in the world and unable to personally connect with those around him, but he finds his niche using his extraordinary medical skill and intuition to save lives and challenge the skepticism of his colleagues. It premiered on ABC last Monday (9/25) and to no surprise was highly rated but also criticised for its portrayal of autism.
I can lean to either side of the spectrum on this subject matter. I do not, nor do I know anyone who has experience with autism so I am not one to judge on if they portrayed it in the correct manner. However, I would be upset if a show portrayed depression in a way that didn’t sit well with me so I understand where someone would come from if they are upset with the show. But I think the most important part of this show is the positivity it brings.
This show along with others like “Atypical” on Netflix is shining a light on autism and savant syndrome. People are engaging and using their own curiosity to look up what these illnesses are. They are educating themselves. One of the most dangerous things in the world is uneducated people. To think that this show is bettering people and teaching them acceptance through the power of story is incredible.
Maybe a kid has a classmate who has autism and is either scared of him or her or just thinks they are “weird”. They come home and watch “The Good Doctor” and a parent explains what it is to them or they Google it themselves. They start to understand this classmate more and they judgment begins to crumble.
I am guilty of judging people by their cover. I went to school with a girl who was older than me and in a different grade but she suffered from Tourette Syndrome (Tourette syndrome (TS) is an inherited disorder of the nervous system, characterized by a variable expression of unwanted movements and noises (tics). I use to cower when she came around because I was scared. I was scared because I was uneducated about what it was that she suffered from. When my mother told me what it was that she had to live with on a daily basis it sparked my curiosity to want to learn more and help. I was very young at the time and obviously couldn’t help much but what I could do was stop giving her the look that everyone else did at school. The look that said, “What’s wrong with that one. She’s not normal like us.” Instead, I smiled at her every morning and said hello. She smiled back the biggest of smiles every morning thereafter.
The Good Doctor took me back to my childhood to relive those moments. I’m very emotional about anything that is mental health related. This show had me crying by the end; Freddie Highmore can deliver with his powerful performance as Dr. Shawn Murphy and his monologue at the very end was so perfectly written and performed is had me ugly crying. He and this wonderful cast deliver powerful messages together. One of those messages played to the theme of saving lives. This show is going to impact a lot of people’s lives and I think it might even save a few. It’s building a community of people who connect or relate to autism. Like all fandoms, it will bring these people together and what’s to come out of this fandom may be something entirely full of acceptance and love. The world needs a little love and acceptance right now and this show gives it wholeheartedly.
The Good Doctor was just picked up for a full season order from ABC and I am absolutely ecstatic! I can not wait for this whole cast that includes Freddie Highmore, Antonia Thomas, Richard Schiff, Hill Harper, Tamlyn Tomita and Nicolas Gonzalez to keep bringing me feels of a damn good story.
Watch it Monday nights on ABC.