The Good Doctor seemingly came out of nowhere to become TV's most popular show. The story follows Dr. Shaun Murphy, a skilled surgeon with autism and savant syndrome, who is trying to assimilate into the workings of a busy hospital. The show starts with Dr. Murphy being vetted by hospital officials, who are all concerned about his potential limitations. His mentor, Dr. Aaron Glassman, stands by Dr. Murphy and pleads his case.
“We hire Shaun and we give hope to those people with limitations that those limitations are not what they think they are, that they do have a shot,” he continued. “We hire Shaun and we make this hospital better for it. We hire Shaun and we are better people for it.”
The Good Doctor demonstrates the challenges that can arise when someone with autism is placed in a situation they are uncomfortable with, but it also showcases how their differences can be what's needed to solve a problem.
Characters with autism have rarely been portrayed on television, especially in prime time, so The Good Doctor is walking in uncharted territory. Dr. Murphy experiences discrimination, jokes at his expense, and missing out on specific social cues that people without autism might pick up easily.
But the question is, does The Good Doctor help or hinder the fight to de-stigmatize autism in mainstream media?