(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)
The Series: Love on the Spectrum
Where You Can Stream It: Netflix
The Pitch: Originating in Australia, Love on the Spectrum is a reality dating series following a variety of singles on the autism spectrum who are looking for love. What could have easily been a series that looks upon its subjects with pity, this documentary series instead shows that people on the spectrum often have the same struggles that non-autistic people have while finding love. Though there are naturally complications that come with being autistic, the series illustrates how broad the spectrum is and simultaneously destigmatizes the common misconceptions made about autism.
Why It’s Essential Viewing: Reality dating shows are a dime a dozen, but few of them feel as genuine and eye-opening as Love on the Spectrum. By following a group of Australian singles on the autism spectrum as they try to find love, we get a glimpse into the lives of those who have constantly been portrayed as a challenge to overcome or a disability that only comes with woes.
Very quickly, it becomes clear that people on the autism spectrum deal with many of the same problems that people without autism deal with everyday, especially when it comes to dating. Though autism can make dating a little more difficult, the series shows that autism doesn’t automatically mean people on the spectrum are incapable of expressing emotions or feeling love, something commonly used as a hurdle in various movies and TV shows with autistic characters.
Love on the Spectrum doesn’t show the subjects through a lens that portrays them as being less than what some might perceive as “normal.” These are adults dealing the complications of everyday life, dating and their own limitations, just as we all are. The parents of these young singles don’t treat them with kid gloves either, and neither does relationship specialist Jodi Rogers, who helps some of the more socially challenged individuals work through the basics of dating and the awkwardness that can be difficult to pick up on, especially for those on the spectrum. We even get a glimpse at two autistic couples who have already found love and are living on their own, showing that it’s not an impossible feat for those on the spectrum to find love. And the series doesn’t limit possible romance to heterosexual relationships, with a couple subjects having bisexual romantic interests.
The good news is the reception of the series from those on the spectrum appears to be mostly positive, with only a few nitpicks taking aim at the confines of reality television. The series may also have a little bit of tunnel vision as it only focuses on romance between those on the autism spectrum rather than broadening the scope to highlight interaction between those on the spectrum and those who aren’t, which is something that deserves to be highlighted since autistic people have to deal with those situations every day. Perhaps some of those issues can be resolved in season 2, which is already in production down under.
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