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Brigette Lundy-Paine, Keir Gilchrist, Michael Rapaport and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Casey Gardner, Sam Garder, Doug Gardner, and Elsa Gardner in Atypical


Atypical Season 3 Promises Relationship Drama

Atypical dropped its season 3 trailer this morning, and it looks like the show isn’t planning to resolve its relationship quandaries anytime soon.

Season 2 left us on a cliffhanger with a couple of romantic relationships hanging in the balance and upcoming changes implied. The Gardner parents spent season 2 essentially separated (even when they were living together) after Elsa’s affair in season 1. Though Doug agreed to sit down with Elsa and discuss their relationship in the finale, he stood her up to go talk to Megan, a friend who has shown interest in him. In the new trailer, he admits he’s been avoiding a big talk, and Elsa says she can’t wait forever. He also gets a talking to from co-worker Chuck, who says marriage is a choice you make every day and begs the question, “You still making that choice?”

Meanwhile, daughter Casey is in a love triangle of her own. Season 2 saw her cutesy relationship with boyfriend Evan put to the test when she transferred to Clayton Prep and began behaving differently. Part of that was due to her fledgling feelings for Izzie, the track team captain who started as Casey’s nemesis but quickly became her new bestie. At Casey’s birthday party she almost kissed Izzie before Elsa interrupted their moment, then went downstairs and made out with Evan like she was trying to purge herself of these feelings. In the finale, however, Casey and Izzie were drinking Slurpees together and holding hands when Casey got a call from Evan, which she declined.

Based on the season 3 trailer, it looks like Casey has decided that was a mistake. She has chosen Evan again, or at least tried to, but seems to be having trouble maintaining that relationship in the wake of her feelings for Izzie. Izzie is upset that Casey is physically avoiding her, while Evan feels emotionally distant from Casey, claiming she’s been acting weird lately. There’s even a shot in the trailer of Casey lying on her bed looking torn while Evan and Izzie sleep on either side of her. It looks like this conflict and Casey’s continued self-discovery is going to be a major plot point this coming season.

Meanwhile, Sam’s relationship with ex-girlfriend Paige still seems to be fraught with complications. After breaking her heart in the season 1 finale, he very matter-of-factly told her he thinks he’s in love with her in the season 2 finale. There is less to go on in the trailer for this relationship than the other two, but there are a few hints. We see Paige looking distressed saying she didn’t expect her life to turn out like this, as well as two shots of her and Sam on his bed. In one they are kissing, while in the other they hold hands back-to-back in a frame that looks equally intimate and melancholy.

Relationships aside, the core themes of Atypical don’t seem to have changed. Family, growing up, and life on the spectrum still take center stage. Elsa is still trying to hold the family together in the wake of various changes, and Sam and Casey’s lovingly belligerent sibling rivalry is still in play. Doug is still sleeping on the couch but we see Casey springing a hug on Elsa from behind, suggesting their relationship at least is on the mend. As mentioned above, Casey’s discovery of her sexuality is complicating her adolescence. And Sam is still trying to take steps toward adult life but struggling, be that over an unfamiliar dorm room with a squeaky door or the pressures of college.

“Four out of five students on the spectrum don’t graduate college within four years,” he says. “That means my chances of success are very low and I’m basically doomed.”

But as Doug tells him, he is resilient. Chances are, we will see our lovable protagonist continue to exceed expectations and find success, even if it’s in an atypical way.

Image courtesy of Netflix


  • Lisa

    Lisa is a gay(ish) writer and stand-up comedian from Canada's west coast. A longtime fanfic author who recently made the jump to journalism, she is prone to gush ad nauseum about her OTPs. Stubbornly Watsonian and literal, she can't stand characterization and continuity errors.


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