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As We See It Showrunner On Casting ‘Authentically’ To Explore Characters On Autism Spectrum Within Amazon Series

A blemish in the world of Hollywood that has continued to not only remain, but be celebrated in the wrong ways is how neurodiversity is depicted in movies and television. When it comes to people on the autism spectrum, not only is this rarely touched upon in the media, it’s hard to find honest depictions of their experiences. But one of the best new Amazon Prime shows to binge is As We See It, which not only follows three young people on the spectrum, but also casts its stars with intention. 

The heartwarming series is led by Rick Glassman, Sue Ann Pien and Albert Rutecki, who can all relate in one way or another to the struggles that come with living on the Autism spectrum. When CinemaBlend spoke to As We See It’s showrunner Jason Katims, he shared how he went about casting its talented stars: 

We wanted to approach the show as authentically as possible. That started with casting, but it was on both sides of the camera. We had neurodiversity in the writer’s room, in the editing room, on the set, in the production office. That’s how we approached it and it was a very exciting part about how we told the story.

Jason Katims is best known for developing NBC’s hit family series Parenthood, which starred an incredible cast and included an ongoing storyline about parents raising a child with Asperger syndrome. When approaching As We See It, Katims decided to bring neurodiversity across just about every aspect of the production. The show’s authenticity certainly comes out within the series, but, of course, its core trio was key. Katims continued: 

I just love these three actors so much. The day that Amazon gave us the greenlight to do the pilot, the very first thing that I did was call Cami Patton, who is our casting director, who has a personal connection to this story and I knew is the right person to cast this. I said to her I want to cast this authentically. So we started by doing a search for neurodiverse characters, characters on the spectrum to play those three leads.

The series follows three roommates who are all encountering complications in their adult lives in different and unique ways. They are roommates who rely on an aide (played by Thirteen Reasons Why’s Sosie Bacon) to help them combat these struggles as she tries to plan her future to further her education. Katims shared how they arrived on the three main actors with these words: 

When [we’d narrowed down actors], we brought them to Los Angeles and I set up two cameras and did it in my office. We set up a couch and chairs like a living room and we just had these characters start to do the scenes together. We wanted to get the feeling of not only how they were in the roles, but what the chemistry was between these characters, so we did different pairings of different actors and when Sue Ann, Harrison and Rick read together it was like eureka, this is it! There was an alchemy and chemistry that we were looking for and it was just an incredible experience and that chemistry you feel when you watch the show, this is how it started.

Among the storylines As We See It tackles is Albert Rutecki’s Harrison, who is working on being able to take a walk to the coffee shop around the corner from his apartment without the outside world panicking him. Sue Ann Pien’s Violet longs to be “normal” and date as she and her brother (played by one of Crazy Rich Asians’ stars Chris Pang) deal with tensions. The third roommate is Rick Glassman’s Jack, who says it like it is and finds himself without a job because of it just as he learns his father has been diagnosed with cancer. 

Following the success of an autism-focused dating show like Love on the Spectrum coming to Netflix in 2019 and more personalities opening up about neurodiversity more honestly (another example being Big Brother’s Britini D’Angelo), it’s great to see As We See It add to the narrative and bringing forward more authentic voices to TV. The series is a must-see! The first season’s episodes are available to binge with an Amazon Prime subscription

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