Atypical: How a Marvel Superhero Went From Bully to Sam's True North
Renaldo Matadeen
In Netflix's Atypical, Sam Gardner (Keir Gilchrist) didn't trust anyone to help him make big decisions in life. Apart from his bestie, Zahid (Nik Dodani), giving advice on dating and sex, Sam was focused on doing it all himself. The 18-year-old autistic teen had a lot on his plate, seeing as he wanted all his routines at high school and in public spaces to be perfect. However, this changed thanks to the presence of a Marvel superhero, who went from being a bully to Sam's True North.
The bully in question is Atypical's Bailey Bennett. She is played by Ariela Barer, who also starred as Gertrude Yorkes in Hulu's Runaways. Barer's depiction of Gert was amazing. She brought the heart and soul of the character right off the comic pages as she helped Alex, Chase and Co. escape their evil parents. It was even better seeing her telepathically linking with her dinosaur, Old Lace, as they navigated the treacherous terrain of a Los Angeles infiltrated by aliens.
In Atypical, though, Barer's Bennett was a mean girl in Season 1 to the point Sam's sister, Casey, punched her out. However, as the show progressed, Bailey displayed signs of compassion, warding other bullies away from Sam as she realized how serious his diagnosis was and how it affected his emotions. Bailey later endearingly interacted with Sam, offering her phone to him in the storeroom to watch penguins.
Through this, Sam learned that maybe kids at Newton High weren't as bad as he thought and that someone like Bailey could redeem herself. It even led to Sam giving Bailey a fake tattoo in Season 2 with a Sharpie after falling in love with his drawings. All of this snowballed into a love triangle with Paige, Sam's ex, as Bailey began a friends-with-benefits relationship with Sam.
It culminated in Paige pulling the fire alarm when she caught Bailey smoking next to Sam, landing them in the guidance counselor's office. But as Ms. Whitaker spoke to Sam about how things like this could affect his future, Sam shocked everyone by revealing he never thought of life past their little Connecticut town. Despite years of therapy, Sam resigned himself to staying at home all his life, working at Techtropolis and selling computers. However, Bailey revealed Sam's brilliant art talent, which caused Whitaker to want to see his portfolio.
And right then and there, the teacher started talking about art schools that could use Sam's skills. He grew excited. While Rhode Island School of Design was too far away, Sam ended up enrolling in Denton University, honing his craft and passion as their program merged his love for marine life with illustration. As a result, Paige was left seething as Bailey was the one who changed the entire trajectory of Sam's life, unraveling a destiny where he began unlocking new aspects of society.
Created by Robia Rashid, Atypical stars Jennifer Jason Leigh, Keir Gilchrist, Brigette Lundy-Paine and Michael Rapaport. All three seasons are available on Netflix with Season 4 premiering July 9.