‘As We See It’: The funny, moving adventures of three roommates on the autistic spectrum
Brilliant Amazon Prime Video series will have you laughing out loud one moment and choking up the next.
Meet Harrison, Jack and Violet, three millennial roommates in their mid-20s trying to make their way in this world.
Harrison would much rather spend his days on the sofa watching game shows than heading into the real world, where something as simple as a walk to the corner coffee shop is fraught with peril, as everything from the sounds of a garbage truck to a skateboarder whizzing past to a woman walking her crying baby in a stroller to a dog barking can freeze him with fear.
An eight-episode series available Friday on Prime Video.
Jack writes programs for a publishing company and is unable to contain his impatience with his boss at a team meeting, blurting out, “That’s a completely asinine statement. It demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of programming! I understand, you have inferior intelligence …” When Jack is told to leave the meeting and go to HR because he’s fired, he pauses to grab three muffins, saying, “I’m just taking one of each because I’m not sure which one I’m going to want later.”
Violet loves her job working the counter at Arby’s, but she’s demoted to kitchen duty after she tells a customer she’s never seen before: “You have nice eyes. … We should have a date! ... We can’t have sex on date one or date two, but on date three we can screw, OK?”
And just like that, the Amazon Prime Video series “As We See It” makes us cringe and laugh at the same time. We also can feel a tugging at our heart, because we’ve taken an instant liking to these unique characters and we’re ready to follow them on their respective journeys.
Based on an Israeli series created by Yuval Shafferman (who serves as an executive producer here), with Jason Katims of “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood” as showrunner, “As We See It” follows the stories of these three twentysomethings who are on the autism spectrum — and their age-peer caregiver, who is facing a number of crossroads of her own. With all eight binge-worthy episodes dropping Friday, this is that rare gem of a series that will have you laughing out loud one moment and choking up the next. It is brilliant television.
Rick Glassman plays Jack, Albert Rutecki is Harrison and Sue Ann Pien is Violet. All three actors identify as living on the autism spectrum, and all three of them deliver quick, funny, touching, memorable work. We believe every inch of their performances. The same can be said of Sosie Bacon as Mandy, the caregiver, who loves her work and cares deeply about her clients but has to make some big decisions about her own future; Chris Pang as Violet’s protective older brother Van, who has seen one romantic relationship after another crash and burn because Violet has to come first, and the one and only Joe Mantegna as Jack’s father, Lou, who is battling cancer and is worried about what will happen to Jack if he doesn’t make it.
Every day for Mandy is a constant whirlwind of bouncing back and forth between the lives of Harrison, Violet and Jack, whether she’s frantically trying to locate Harrison after he’s embarked on an ill-fated sojourn into the real world, trying to get Jack to understand at least the concept of empathy or putting together a birthday party for Violet that has disaster written all over it from the get-go (and goes even worse than we feared). There are times when she’s overwhelmed and exhausted by the job, but it’s all worth it when Harrison has a breakthrough or Jack strikes up a connection with a nurse at the clinic treating her dad or she has a magical night out with Violet.
The work is immensely challenging but also incredibly rewarding — but Mandy’s long-term plans involve medical school, with the first step being a move to another city. In the meantime, Jack, Harrison and Violet are all feeling abandoned, what with Jack’s father facing a potentially terminal illness, Van suggesting Violet might be better off in an assisted living facility and Harrison’s parents planning to move to Big Sky country now that Harrison’s younger sister has graduated high school and will be going away to college. The writers and the actors deftly handle each of these storylines with grace and wit and depth; we can understand everyone’s point of view, everyone’s concerns.
There are no villains in “As We See It,” but plenty of everyday people who are occasionally capable of heroic deeds. A constant theme is Harrison, Violet and Jack wanting to fit in, to be “normal,” but as Mandy keeps telling them, they ARE normal, just in their own way — and she would never, ever want them to try to be something they’re not. After all, they’re pretty wonderful as they are.