EG: I have had only limited experience with the autism community, so one of the aspects of the show that I found the most interesting was the workshops and coaching led by experts who work with people on the spectrum specifically in the realm of dating. (And TBH, I think we could all use a dating and relationship coach.) The show really drove home that ALL social skills and dating norms aren’t some abstract, impossible to pinpoint thing. We all operate under a shared set of fairly clear-cut rules and ways of having exchanges. And by being explicit about those rules and norms, people on the spectrum can learn fairly easily!
Leigh, what has the reaction to the show been within the autism community?
LB: I’ve read tweets saying the show feels like it was made for a non-autistic audience, which I do agree with. It does feel like it’s trying to inform NT people of what it’s like to date on the spectrum versus being for those with autism. Some people felt like putting a focus on the cast’s “difficulties and quirks” stereotyped those on the spectrum. Also, the lack of racial and ethnic diversity was noticeable.
Others were happy that the docuseries added facts and statistics about autism, especially in terms of women being diagnosed later in life. A critic at “The Spool,” Douglas Laman, who is on the spectrum himself, called the show “a heartwarming, trailblazing ode to neurodivergent romance.”
“Everybody just assumes autistic people can’t hold jobs, engage in romance, or even be women, so it must be true, right? It’s easy to fall prey to that line of thinking but difficult to break out of it,” he writes. “Luckily, ‘Love on the Spectrum’ is here to help remind autistic and neurotypical viewers alike how wrong that concept is.”
EG: All of those critiques make a lot of sense (the show was VERY white!). And admittedly, as an NT person, I do think that I was in the target audience for the show. I would love to see “Love on the Spectrum” get a second season so that the docuseries could dive deeper and answer some of those good-faith critiques.
So, Should You Watch It?
LB: Agreed. It was based in Australia this season, so let’s hope it extends its reach worldwide so we can meet a new crop of love-seekers. (I also need an update/catchup so I know if sweetheart paleontologist Mark found the woman he deserves.)
In terms of if people should watch it ― YES. I found “Love on the Spectrum” not only to be insightful but extremely enjoyable and refreshing. It truly is a delight.
EG: If you’re a newbie to learning about the autism community and/or love a good romantic comedy, “Love on the Spectrum” is decidedly for you. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s full of love of all kinds.