Television on the Spectrum: The Best (and Worst) Depictions of Asperger Syndrome on TV

Asperger syndrome is no longer in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the DSM kids are calling it an autism spectrum disorder these days — but it’s still all over our television screens. It seems like no TV show is complete anymore without a charming and/or abrasive weirdo who has issues with social cues, eye contact, and the occasional hallucination involving deer antlers. (Although maybe that last one is Hannibal-specific.)

As both a person with Asperger’s and an obsessive television watcher, these characters are pretty serious business for me, and it’s important to me that writers and actors portray them as accurately and honestly as possible. As the latter, I also want to make sure they’re entertaining.

Using my mad meticulous and intensely focused spectral skills, I’ve assessed 15 of the small screen’s Aspergian, autistic, and “autistish” characters and ranked them from best to worst.

maurice moss it crowd

Maurice Moss, The IT Crowd

Moss has become a bit of an aspirational figure for people on the spectrum. We identify with him and his autistic-like qualities because we collect weird stuff like wires and suck at lying, too. We want to be him because most of us aren’t nearly as unapologetic and proud of those things as he is.