Are you watching ‘As We See It’ – 2022’s first great coming-of-age drama?
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  • Post published:29/01/2022
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TVFeatures

Are you watching ‘As We See It’ – 2022’s first great coming-of-age drama?

It tells the entertaining story of three roommates on the autistic spectrum

By Ella Kemp

As We See It
Stream ‘As We See It’ now via Prime Video. CREDIT: Amazon

Representation can be used as a reductive catchall in stories shining a light on underserved perspectives – namely in the coming of age genre. It can be a case of box-ticking rather than truthful storytelling, which makes Amazon’s refreshing and humble As We See It a welcome addition to the modern canon.

The series tells the story of three roommates on the autistic spectrum, and gives space to their individual wants and worries as they navigate life as modern adults. It’s often wry and heartfelt without being cloying, entertaining and sharp without ever making fun of anyone.

Newcomers Rick Glassman (Jack), Albert Rutecki (Harrison) and Sue Ann Pień (Violet) play the lead roles (and all identify on the autism spectrum in real life). Jack’s focus is his job – in which he considers himself the smartest person in the room at all times, much to the frustration of his colleagues – and his relationship with his father, who is suffering from a new physical health diagnosis. Glassman’s performance is one of impressive precision, with similar coming timing to the likes of master of awkwardness Jesse Eisenberg.

Rutecki plays Harrison, and his character deals with an anxiety that’s more tender, offering a subtle portrayal of the sensitive discomfort that comes with processing sensory information as an autistic person. Questions of body image and adult loneliness are dealt with elegantly, giving Harrison support, never judgement. Pien is undoubtedly the show’s standout as Violet, an ebullient young woman hellbent on finding a love interest, obsessed with Bumble, Hinge – whatever she can get her hands on. Her spontaneity is freeing and inspiring, bottling the no-filter immediacy of her character.

As We See It comes from Friday Night Lights writer Jason Katims (and there’s a similar sense of levity and optimism in what could have been a dour drama), who described the project as “deeply personal”, nodding to the fact that his son has Asperger’s. It’s a thoughtful, unpretentious look at how these young adults adapt differently to situations we all recognise.

Unfortunately, at least at the beginning, there’s not so much of a sense of just what makes them connect with each other as people (Do they like the same music? Who does the washing up most often?) as so much time is spent shading their individualities. But Mare of Easttown’s Susie Bacon undeniably anchors each storyline beautifully and connects the pieces as their support worker Mandy, who also faces her own dilemmas while her career progresses and her relationship with Jack, Harrison and Violet is tested.

The series has the same modest charm of so many forgettable sitcoms about 20-somethings without much direction – except there is a quiet sense of earned importance to this story that so many others lack. It’s not sensationalised nor trivialised. The story of Jack, Harrison and Violet’s lives takes time to grow over the season, as all the most truthful and rewarding coming-of-agers do.

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