A little “Sheldony?”
I mentioned in my last post that my co-worker told me I was exactly like Sheldon Cooper from the CBS show The Big Bang Theory, and an argument can be made. In fact, there’s a lot of discussion going on about the character played by Jim Parsons and if he is indeed on the spectrum. One of the creators considers it coincidental and Parsons himself said his character isn’t on the spectrum as far as he knows, but Sheldon may display more facets of the disorder in future seasons (the show was picked up for two more seasons on CBS and will now follow its sister show, Two and a Half Men).
I talked about this revelation in an interview I did for the next installment of my autism documentary series. My neighbor and I discussed the potential for a flagship character autistic people can identify with on primetime television. While Sheldon’s behavior continues to show signs of Asperger Syndrome (his intelligence is high, but his social skills are non-existent), creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady ultimately may not make the distinction official in the show’s canon. Although the show doesn’t make baffoons out of the nerdy nature of Sheldon and his highly intellectual friends, my neighbor and I thought there’s a chance that if the writers did decide he was on the spectrum, some members of the autism community could interpret such a development as making fun of autistic people. As the show enters its third season in the fall, I think more people will get a glimpse of what an autistic person might process in his or her mind.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the creative team does explore the autistic realm with Sheldon as more people question the creators and Parsons about Sheldon’s presumably autistic behavior. As the fanbase and ratings continue to increase, I haven’t seen any backlash from viewers about the behavioral patterns of any character. Anecdotally speaking, fans I’ve talked to say Sheldon helps make the show what it is, suggesting that people aren’t taking this as mocking autistic people. Spock and Data may get some competition as icons of the autism spectrum before long.