Max Braverman on Parenthood: complex or caricature?


I recently stumbled upon a show called Parenthood and was sorry to have not watched it sooner. The first season is filled with complicated relationships between flawed human characters. One who stood out was Max Braverman, who is diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. Who would have thought he was actually based on the son of creator Jason Katims? Does that add to the authenticity of Max's story? Not entirely. Katims' experience was quite different to how some others view Asperger's.

Firstly, Katims hired a whole fleet of staff to make his son as 'normal' as possible. It doesn't always work that way. He told Autism Speaks he used "psychologists, in-house aides, teachers, PT, OT, speech therapists, you name it..." Gosh. And to think some Aspies go through normal school with no more help than anyone else. Yes it does happen. It's his right to tell his story the way he knows it. But not every Aspie is 'special needs.' 

Secondly, it will be interesting to see if Max grows out of it a little bit. He might not see his family's perspective at a young age, but maybe he will lean to ask them for their thoughts occasionally. Max may not want to 'play' like other kids do. But he should do fine later in life because he stays informed enough to contribute an encyclopaedia of knowledge to every conversation. A lot of Aspies learn how to fit in through the way anyone else does. Aspies might take more time or stumble along the way. But hopefully Max can show the world Aspies are intelligent individuals capable of change. 

These are just some suggestions for Jason Katims to maybe avoid bias in his portrayal of an Aspie. Although it was a gutsy move to officially diagnose a character. The second that happens on any show, everyone has an opinion on it. The forums fill up. Well done Parenthood for giving it a go. 

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