As We See It a heartfelt comedy about a trio of autistic roommates
By Ishini Fernando
As We See It, the 2022 Prime Video comedy-drama created by Jason Katmis, tells the story of three autistic roommates navigating adulthood. Based on the Israeli show On the Spectrum (2018), the eight-part series follows Jack (Rick Glassman), Violet (Sue Ann Pien) and Harrison (Albert Rutecki), who live together with their aid Mandy (Sosie Bacon) in an effort to become independent.
The show delves into each of the roommates’ goals and challenges. There is Violet, who desperately wants a “normal” boyfriend and pursues love almost obsessively. This combined with her tendency to romanticize and misread men’s behaviour gets her into several awkward situations. Then there is Jack, who often inadvertently rubs people the wrong way. His world turns upside down when he comes to learn some unfortunate news about his family. And finally, there is Harrison, who struggles with stress eating and agoraphobia, making him a hard-core homebody. Things get a little easier when he strikes up an unlikely friendship with a boy who lives on another floor of his building.
Viewers get to follow along as the three strive to find love, make friends, and get and hold onto jobs. The show also explores the perspectives of their families and Mandy, who often struggle to support them in their journeys to independence. Like the leads, they too are unsure in the decisions they make and often wonder whether they are doing right by their loved ones. The series does not shy away from serious topics but keeps things light-hearted with a mix of tender moments and well-placed humour. The struggles are real, but so are the laughs.
As We See It remarkably breaks a few Hollywood patterns. For one, by having three leads who play characters on the spectrum with vastly different strengths and weaknesses, it does a great job in portraying diversity in autism while simultaneously avoiding the pitfall of stereotypical autistic representation. Another noteworthy fact of the show is that the three leads are actually played by autistic actors. As reported by the New York Times, the show’s creator drew from his personal and professional experience to make As We See It what it is. Katims has a son on the spectrum who has been a source of inspiration for his work in the past. With his son now grown, Katims began wondering what adulthood would look like for him. When he learned of the Israeli show On the Spectrum, he knew he wanted an American adaptation.
Katims also wished for autistic actors to play the leads. In many recent films and shows portraying autistic characters, the majority of those roles have gone to neurotypical actors. While Katims planned to go against the Hollywood grain, he was still pleasantly surprised when he discovered the pool of talent of autistic actors. Sue Ann Pien, who plays Violet, has expressed how she would not have been able to bring depth to her character if she hadn’t had the experience to draw from. She related to Violet’s difficulties searching for love and connection and could even trace certain scenes to her life.
In an interview for the Emmys, Glassman (Jack) has spoken about how he only received his autism spectrum disorder diagnosis well into his adult years. Until then, he had simply believed himself to be “difficult.” Receiving his diagnosis had made everything click and allowed him to bring this understanding to his character. Notably, Rutecki (Harrison) booked the role on his first-ever audition and was initially scared to embark on this journey. Fortunately, as he told the Times, having co-stars he could relate to and a crew who created a bubble of acceptance made his first experience as an actor a positive one.
As We See It is a great choice for a weekend binge-watch and is certain to fill the room with laughter.