Ok, so if you watch TV (particularly the show “Fringe”) or keep up with popular media you might already know this. I do not get cable TV or keep up with pop culture in pretty much any way, so sometimes things take a while to filter down to me. Also, in this case, it just took me a while in general.
Anyway! I’ve been watching Fringe. I find it very silly, but thoroughly enjoy the absurdity so it works for me.
WARNING: There will be spoilers within! So if you have not watched Fringe but you plan to at some point and you care about not reading spoilers, maybe don’t read past the cut. Everyone else, I want to share my excitement!
For those of you who don’t watch the show, in Fringe there are two universes – ours, and an alternate universe. The alternate universe contains alternate versions of the characters we know, and in the show we get to know, to varying degrees, some of these alternate characters.
There is one character pair played by Jasika Nicole named Astrid Farnsworth. She is a supporting character and does not get a whole lot of attention, and her alternate version gets even less. Yet despite this lack of attention, it is the alternate Astrid Farnsworth that I want to talk about.
See, SHE’S AUTISTIC. And I just got that a few days ago. I’m not sure why it took me so long, really. She certainly played as a little odd right from the beginning. I noticed the fact that she never made eye contact right away, but I took it more as shyness or lack of confidence than as autism. I noticed her mannerisms, the way she moved and held her hands, and I still didn’t grok onto autism. I wonder if it says anything about me that I just wasn’t catching on… It wasn’t until an Astrid-focused episode, when the two Astrids met each other, that I finally caught on. And it was only because alternate Astrid made a comment about wondering if things in her life would have been different if she had been normal.
And then, FINALLY then, it hit me. “Holy crap I think she’s autistic!” So I looked it up and yep, it’s ALLLL over the internet. It’s an official thing – not just conjecture by the fans. The alternate Astrid Farnsworth is autistic.
I must admit, I find this incredibly exciting. A WOMAN! Not only that, but a woman of color! Who is autistic! Which is, importantly, an autistic character rather than a characterization of autism! Very little in the show is really about the fact that she is autistic. When she appears as a character, it’s largely about what she does (that being – mostly runs statistics and probabilities). The autism is simply part of who she is.
And that’s INCREDIBLE. I don’t think I ever expected to see something like that, which is my excuse for my it took me so long to get it. I mean, I have been frustrated about the way autism is generally represented in the media, and about how autism is so often portrayed as only white and male. I have wanted, so badly to see something like this, but to be honest I never actually thought I would.
Which is why this is just so awesome to me. I want to see more of it! In my book, the writers and producers of Fringe are definitely doing something right. Yeah, she’s a minor character, but still! Now I want to see so much more of her. And while I’ve never been into the whole autograph thing, I think I might actually like to get Jasika Nicole’s autograph someday, just because of this character. Just because of how awesome it is to see someone like me on TV. I hope to see lots more of Alternate Astrid, I really do.