Watching the portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome in TV shows can be insulting, interesting, and sometimes even enlightening. It’s a mixed bag of emotions, especially when these same portrayals can vary wildly in their accuracy.
That said, my husband and I were introduced to The Big Bang Theory.
For those not familiar with it, the show portrays a group of socially challenged physicists. It’s a comedy, and yet the show actually retains a physicist on staff, so the science is pretty good. They also paint their characters with feeling, so they don’t appear entirely flat.
Oh, and it’s funny. Really funny. If you like that sort of thing, anyway (which we do).
The reason we’d put off seeing it, of course, was that my husband was worried it might hit a little too close to home. He has a degree in physics, after all, and had a few hints from co-workers about how they never would have understood parts of the show if it hadn’t been for him.
I think that would alarm anyone.
And so, after the very first episode, I found myself asking him if he was okay. It was funny, but didn’t pull punches when it came to pointing out quirky behavior. And one of the characters is VERY Asperger (Sheldon). Of course, it’s not entirely accurate (his friends would value him more, he’d feel more loyalty toward them, and so on), but, wow, it comes close in many ways.
Seeing yourself baldly like that can be shocking and disturbing. Even if you can’t help laughing at the joke.
So he’s been a little ruffled lately, but insists that he can handle it. Enjoys the jokes, can’t help but see the parallels, and yet also points out the inaccuracies. I’ve had to reassure him that he definitely isn’t Sheldon, that there are many obvious differences.
And I’m seeing some personal growth. Some new recognition of inflexibility, and a sudden appreciation for those who see past it.
I think that any time one gets a candid glimpse at oneself, it can be both painful and illuminating.
Thank heavens I’m spared seeing myself (or a close approximation) on the screen. I don’t think I could handle it anywhere near as gracefully. Ok, I know I couldn’t handle it. How many of us could?
As I’m always on the lookout for ways to teach our son about others and their feelings, I keep seeing bits of scenes and saying, “Oh, our son needs to see this!” Particularly when it involves non-typical behavior and how others react to it. Or sportsmanship issues. Or insistence on one’s own way with no regard to others.
Sadly, the show is a little adult, so we have to play it in bits. All the same, I’m storing scenes away for the future, as watching a show can be more enlightening than listening to an explanation. Explanations just lack punch sometimes. A picture is worth a thousand words, and so on.
Oh, and for all of you out there who have known all along about The Big Bang Theory, you’ll be amused to know that my son’s favorite game right now is Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock. 😉
Note: My husband got his laugh at me after hearing in the behind the scenes clip about how those who seemed to enjoy the show the most (in the physicist consultant’s point of view) were not his fellow physicists, but their spouses.