I’ve never been comfortable with any portrayal of an autistic person on film or TV. My preference is a portrayal that, while not intentionally portraying an autistic person, I personally relate to and recognise as having some shared ASD traits. For me, those portrayals are more honest, nuanced and less over-the-top / obvious. For example: Spock, Peter Graves (Mission Impossible), Agent Dale Cooper, Dexter, Vincent D’Onofrio (Law and Order: Criminal Intent) and Elliot Alderson in Mr. Robot. In my opinion, all of these portrayals have displayed ASD traits without coming out and claiming to be ASD.
If push comes to shove, I’d say THE BEST cinematic portrayal of autism ever committed to celluloid is “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. I am a huge fan of Nicholas Roeg, and in particular “Performance”, and David Bowie (of course!). I am currently working on a full analysis of autistic themes in “The Man Who Fell to Earth”, so watch this blog.
In conclusion, while I’ve yet to see a portrayal of an autistic person in film or TV that I liked, I don’t think I’m the target audience for things like the Good Doctor and Atypical. If this sort of thing is a neurotypical (NT) person’s introduction to autism, and they gain some empathy and understanding, then I am all for it.