Life isn’t easy out there, especially not if it feels like the world is stacked against you. Everyone strives to be like those that seemingly have it all together, even if they may struggle in their way. As We See It takes a closer look at that very struggle through the eyes of Jack (Rick Glassman), Violet (Sue Ann Pien), and Harrison (Albert Rutecki), three roommates on the autistic spectrum. In the past, the portrayal of autism has been rough in films and TV. Yet, this series by Jason Katims finds a humanizing way to induce comedy and drama that shows a charmingly honest look at their lives and those around them.
What I believe this show handles best is that it avoids autism as a caricature or even turning it into the butt of the joke. Instead, it embraces its characters and every aspect that defines them. We’re not in a sitcom. This show warms your heart by showing you the highs when even the smallest challenge is accomplished – a lesson perhaps many of us should learn as well. Harrison managing to walk down the street may seem unimportant but it means the world to him. He manages it because of the support system he has in Sosie Bacon‘s Mandy.
Speaking of, her role in the story highlights another strength of this series. While Jack, Violet, and Harrison are technically our main trio, a lot of time is spent fleshing out the people around them and how their lives start to interweave. Mandy’s storyline is about her questioning to follow her dreams – if they truly were her own – or continue the work she’s doing for these three. The show doesn’t harp on drama but doesn’t shy away from it. That’s why I mention it is “honest” earlier in the review.
They don’t sugarcoat autism and how it affects not only those living with it but those closest to them. Violet’s relationship with her brother Van (Chris Pang) is a great showcase of exactly that. He takes harsh actions due to having to handle it on his own after the passing of their parents. There’s so much pressure already on him that he’s become overprotective. It’s a natural progression of his character that is punctuated throughout his development in this show, heightened by Pien and Pang‘s performances.
However, I will say there is one plotline that seemingly felt predictable yet forced at the same time. I do not want to spoil it, but I feel once it happens many will understand what it is. It exists purely to add drama and it takes away from a character’s nuanced struggle. The idea is fine, but I do feel like if it was slowly introduced for a future season it may have more impact, as well as not taken away from an already nuanced struggle that a character faced.
There are some moments where the show takes its time with storylines, but it’s part of its charm. It offers an unrelenting experience of the struggles our main characters go through. Glassman‘s Jack tries to take a very direct approach to solve his issues while the underlying emotional challenges are yet to be addressed. Through Violet’s experiences, the series highlights the cruelty of the real world and how unkind people can be. And even those that are good-natured at their core, like Harrison, may be misunderstood by a world that just simply is untrusting.
When tackling such a sensitive topic, there’s always going to be a fine line that is hard to keep intact. I can’t help but praise how As We See It manages to do it so well. There’s a charming honesty at display in its portrayal of its characters and the struggles they face. It teaches you that no matter how difficult it may be, there’s always going to be a moment to smile, connect, and live. Even if there may be a new challenge just around the corner, that only means well face a new opportunity to grow. Perhaps for some, this show can do exactly that.