“As We See It” on Amazon Prime: Friendship Among People with Autism

Charlie Babbitt was the person who allowed the entire world to learn and be affected by broad-spectrum autism. When Rain Man hit theaters in 1988, Dustin Hoffman’s classic drama was at the height of its fame, and young Tom Cruise jumped from the little boy’s trap with this movie. The film was soon followed by critical voices, saying that autistic people are very different from Charlie.

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And when Hoffman also got the lead actor an Oscar, the chatter knew that to get an Oscar, one only had to worry about roles that were sick or handicapped. The DVD versions of the movie later included extensive autism-related extras in the movie extras, featured people on the autism spectrum with their own talents, and showed viewers that director Barry Levinson and his team had done some good research. The fact that this masterpiece (four Oscars, two Globes), one of the most beautiful fraternity stories in cinema, puts its viewers in an emotional mood is not a shame anyway. Generating emotions is the oldest task of cinema.

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Amazon’s new series “As We See It”, based on the Israeli series “On The Spectrum” (since 2018), shows us characters very similar to those of Charlie Babbit. Single scenes may be funny, but the joke is never at the expense of those whose behavior does not conform to the norm. When Jack (Rick Glassman), a publishing programmer for ambiguous-headed autism, tells his arrogant boss that he understands his narrow-mindedness, after all “has poor intelligence,” then he and his cohorts might dismiss him and his cohorts shaking their heads at the fact that Jack uses fast Woody Allen-Glasses pickups. Breakfast muffins of every kind (“I don’t know which one to pick later”), but you want to hug him. Quite a few would like to drop such a sentence in their working mode. One likes the “live” jack right away.

It’s easy to fall in love with Jack, Harrison, and Violet

And you also love Harrison (Albert Roticki). The heavyweight guy has a major communication problem. In the first episode, he dares to walk through the glass door of his sidewalk apartment for the first time. The phone link to his supervisor Mandy (Susie Bacon of “Mary of Easttown,” “The Here and Now”) gave him the necessary courage. He asked her beforehand why he had to go out. To do things she answered. He wanted to postpone work until tomorrow. And then he dares to take the giant step. He begins to run with low eyelids, a skater cuts him off and continues to walk. He is harassed by the noise of a garbage truck going by as well. But when a strange husky barks at him, Harrison’s stability disappears. He runs back to his safe house.

And you love Violet (Sue Ann Pien), the check-out clerk at Arby’s burger shop, who sighs and assures that the lumberjack shirt customer has “beautiful eyes.” This is just the beginning to start a conversation of their own. As the divorced man proceeds to order drinks, Violet and her first three dates visualize him. “We can’t have sex with the first two, but we can have sex with the third.” The man is confused and his wife is angry. She demands the branch manager: “They should fire you immediately.” “Thanks for your support,” Violet calls out after Monday — quite friendly, not a bit sarcastic. She finally wants closeness, love, and sex – like everyone else. And she just can’t understand, almost desperate, that you can’t just incite collective action like this and quite frankly.

Three special people who want to live “normal”.

These three live in the same facility. They are like carrots at the beginning of this series and in their group sessions are honest beyond the pain point. Jack told Harrison that he stinks because he’s fat and that he’d never get a job without the support of his wealthy parents, he wouldn’t get his feet on the ground. Shy Harrison replies that he doesn’t particularly like Jack, while Violet thinks of nothing else but one thing and how she can work so hard for it on a dating app. In the car, she announces to her brother, who is very upset about it, that her breasts are good, and that is why she wants lace bras. “I’m 25. I want a boyfriend. I want to be normal.”

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And that’s the whole story. Three who want to participate in the “normal” situation but cannot do so in any other way but in their own way are rejected, hurt, scorned and exploited – because the world does not understand them, because their closest relatives have either rejected them. (Harrison’s parents), you either have a life of their own (Violet’s brother has a rather complicated love affair) or they won’t live long. Jack’s father (Joe Montingna) has cancer: “I’m fighting for my life,” he confesses to his son, who was completely unaffected at first. “I want to know you’re okay.”

The only person who is there for the three of them like a tireless angel, who advises them, hugs them, explains the world to them, is their incorruptible advocate and delights in their successes is Mandy. But her boyfriend now wants her to move with him to Berkeley. He got her a job in autism research, which she really can’t turn down. Of course, Mandy suspects that making a decision about her future will put her subjects, especially Harrison, back in their development. What do I do? Drama my love

Showrunner Katims had personal reasons for the series

Showrunner Jason Katims (“Parenthood”) has an autistic son. What prompted him to do the series was above all the lack of opportunities for adults with autism in the job market. Even college graduates on the autism spectrum are 80% unemployed. To change this rejection, and to seek understanding, he felt important when his son was growing up. Besides, he just wanted to present a series about the free, beautiful, and wonderful life of the world audience, which has been stuck in the confinement of the epidemic for two years, as he explained in an interview.

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A story that’s one hundred percent as satisfying as “Rain Man” – and some of that awakening from social inertia appears (in the five remaining episodes to watch) like a fairy tale. But before the gossip wags their tongues again: Unlike Dustin Hoffman, the actors who play Harrison, Violet, and Jack are themselves people on the autism spectrum. And they are incredibly touching when they smile, laugh, care, and become more and more friends. “As we see it” brings joy, brings tears – as far as we can see. The second season is urgently needed.

“As We See It” Season 1 (eight episodes) Jason Katims with Susie Bacon, Albert Roticki, Rick Glassman, Sue Ann Bean, and Joe Montaña (from January 21 on Amazon Prime Video)

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