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The Importance of Being Aspie: SOME Television Representations ofAutism-as-Aspergers Nedda Ahmed Arts Librarian, Georgia State University @neddaahmed
The Big Bang Theory (CBS): Dr. Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons, is rigid, routine-oriented, socially inept… and brilliant. Although never labeled as such, the audience is meant to read this character as having Asperger’s.
Community (NBC): Abed Nadir, played by Danny Pudi, is another smart-yet-awkward character audiences commonly read as having Asperger’s due to his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture and lack of emotional awareness.
Grey’s Anatomy (ABC) season 5: Dr. Dixon, played by Mary McDonnell, is a highly successful, yet socially awkward heart surgeon with Asperger’s. Psychology Today writer Lynne Soraya described this portrayal of Asperger’s as very over-the-top.
Touch (Fox): Kiefer Sutherland plays the father of an “emotionally challenged” non-verbal boy (read: autistic) with an “extraordinary gift” for mathematics that borders on the magical/mystical.
The Middle (ABC): Brick Heck, played by Atticus Shaffer, is a non-diagnosed boy with Asperger’s-like symptoms. On the show, he attends a social skills group for children on the Autism Spectrum.
Parenthood (NBC): Max Braverman, played by Max Burkholder, is an officially diagnosed pre-teen with Asperger’s. Max has multiple areas of savant-like abilities. This character is widely regarded as being the most holistic portrayal of Autism on television.