In recent months, we’ve been looking into the impact The Good Doctor continues making in helping mainstream audiences understand those who live on the autism spectrum. You can give much of that credit to Freddie Highmore who’s now in his third season playing Dr. Shaun Murphy.
In the last three seasons, Highmore as also taken a huge stand on making sure audiences stop stereotyping autistic people after being depicted in a specific way for decades. It seems clear Highmore works closely with the writing team at The Good Doctor to make sure Murphy is seen as more versatile than pop-culture keeps depicting.
This season, we’re seeing Shaun delve into the world of romance, something Highmore says is ample opportunity to remind everyone autistic people still have varied emotions. All of this makes us wonder what more we’ll discover about autism if there’s a fourth season.
Freddie Highmore highlighted three vibes to look out for this season
During a recent interview with ET Online, Highmore noted we can expect three different “vibes” through season 3. They’re going to explore the romantic side of Shaun first, then hope and responsibility.
We’re obviously still in the romantic phase with these early season 3 episodes. What comes next will likely be just as surprising as what we’ve witnessed in the last couple of seasons.
Thus far, we’ve seen a lot of surprising things about Shaun we never thought an autistic person would experience. One of the best from last year was when Shaun and Glassman both got high on medical cannabis edibles.
Once we got to the point where Shaun started dating, we saw numerous fans arguing over which woman he should ultimately date. He ended up dating someone different — Dr. Carly Lever — than what many thought he would. Nevertheless, his date almost became a disaster until he received a kiss from Carly.
From all indications, they’ll be continuing to date throughout the season. What about those other two vibes, though? What kind of personality traits will the show reveal this year to further remove the autism myths from pop culture forever?
‘The Good Doctor’ is educating the audience about autism
If you’ve ever read a scientific analysis of autism, you’ll come to learn autistic people definitely do experience emotions. The only difference is they don’t recognize what those emotions are.
Highmore has been making the rounds reminding audiences of this over the last several years since The Good Doctor started. Ever since the movie Rain Man released in the late 1980s, the depiction of autism has only limited those emotions to just one or two. This movie set such a strong precedent, almost every depiction since in movies or TV has been a virtual carbon copy of the Raymond Babbitt character played by Dustin Hoffman.
The character of Shaun Murphy is now the new precedent being set for all future media projects depicting autism. However, The Good Doctor is probably going to make the rounds in covering every aspect of autism we never really knew.
In the case of Shaun ever feeling a sense of hope, we’ll likely find out he most definitely does. Maybe he doesn’t recognize it, but we’ll also realize that with those emotions, we’ll also see a sense of responsibility.
What’s next for Shaun Murphy on ‘The Good Doctor’
What’s most interesting is seeing Shaun become self-aware about being autistic to a point where he tells others about what he’s feeling or not feeling. Exploring this alone is all-new territory for a TV depiction of a condition.
Thanks to this approach and likely other explorations of autistic emotions, we’ll probably see Shaun take a greater sense of responsibility in the actions he takes. We all know he’s brilliant and often saves lives thanks to his superior medical knowledge. At the same time, there could be a mistake made, leading him to have to deal with the emotions of feeling responsible.
How this plays out should be enough to earn Highmore a long-overdue Emmy Award for playing someone unlike any other character TV today.