Girl Meets World – Asperger’s Episode

I watch Girl Meets World. I’m not the only adult who does. It has a huge fan following of adults nostalgic for the old Boy Meets World. But, I have to admit that I watch kid-TV all the time, mostly Disney (#^^#)

Anyway, last night, an episode dealing with Aspergers aired. I was hoping they wouldn’t make a complete mess of things. I had a little bit of hope and some anxiety. All in all, it wasn’t bad. It addressed a few problematic pop-culture representations, but it also re-enforced others.

The character Farkle (Stuart Minkus’ son from BMW) is suspected to have an ASD. He is a genius character with some social idiosyncrasies. He fits the hollywood Aspie stereotype of genius, a little weird, but popular enough non the less. By the end of the episode, we learn that he doesn’t have an ASD after all. I like the message that being a little “weird” doesn’t necessarily indicate autism, nor does being a genius.

I am also really pleased that a female character (Isadora Smackle, who has a crush on Farkle) was revealed to have Aspergers. Females Aspies are terribly underrepresented on television and in general, so that’s progress right there.

But here is where a noted a problem. Smackle’s character has overly exaggerated Aspie traits. I know there are some Aspies that may act like her, but for the most part, I think her character was dramatized as is often necessary for character representations. We have seen Smackle before, but she has not been a regular. In order to cover something like Aspergers, and make a point in such a short time, her traits had to be exaggerated. She was so “obviously” autistic, that even Maya and Riley, who had not even heard of Aspergers before, recognized her as having it after reading a list of symptoms.

This isn’t the worse thing Disney could have done, but it increases an issue I run into as a female Aspie, that being the  comment “But you don’t seem autistic to me!” As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it is not all that unusual for a female Aspie to blend in better than a male. This isn’t always the case, and there are certainly Smackle’s in real life – but it’s an assumed stereotype that makes communicating my own situation more difficult.

In the interest of countering pop-culture, let me share with you my favorite Aspie-related youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fTBM_3sdwE

Update 2/25/17

Smackle ends up becoming a semi-regular character on the show and her autistic traits become a lot more nuanced. I was really happy to with her character development. It’s a shame the show was cancelled after only three seasons.

 

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Posted on September 12, 2015, in Autism/Aspergers and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Interesting that you say you watch Disney a lot. My daughter slides the opposite route (with the exception of Gravity Fall on Disney) — she’s a Criminal Minds freak!

    And, yes, she loves to tear “Pop Aspie” apart in the media. So far the only one she truly likes is Dr. Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. LOL

    Here’s a video of my little Aspie in action — 3 weeks before her 15th birthday.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting indeed, Gravity Falls in one of the few disney shows I don’t like (that style of animation weirds me out). I tend to gravitate towards childish things, especially when it comes to TV and movies – but I do have a some age-appropriate tastes too. I love the BBC Sherlock series (I like detective shows that aren’t too drama heavy or gory crime-focused). I guess links don’t display in comments? I couldn’t access the video directly, but I assume it’s one of the two belly dance videos on the fb page? Very talented!

      Like

    • I’ll admit that I’m a bit critical of belly dance but that’s because I know a professional. Your daughter is really pretty good! Nice isolation between the hips and chest. I applaud her!

      Like

  2. I can’t speak for the pop aspie, but I know the feeling. Pop depression is often stereotypes and so far from a lot of reality that it makes me want to pull my hair out.

    I try to console myself that at least they’re starting the conversation, if overblown

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing, Shelley. If you want to see a really good depiction of Asperger Syndrome in a kids’ show, then you should see this episode of Arthur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsmjwHW40ps

    Like

  4. Thank you. Interesting insight. I knew nothing about the way Aspergers was portrayed in pop culture.

    Liked by 1 person

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