Season 2 of Netflix’s Atypical, a coming-of-age dramedy focused on an autistic teen, premiered on September 7. But for star Brigette Lundy-Paine, the show is much more than just the journey of one teenager—in fact, much of Atypical’s charm comes from the community of characters it features.
Lundy-Paine plays Casey Gardner, the younger sister and protector to main character Sam Gardner. In playing the role, Lundy-Paine has been able to embrace many parts of herself, including her own identity as a queer woman.
“I think this show is actually really queer even though it hasn’t yet explicitly been so,” she told The Advocate in a recent interview. Atypical may not be overtly queer, but the quiet inclusion of diverse cast members and those behind the scenes (the show is created by a woman of color, Robia Rashid, and the crew is mostly made up of women and people of color) creates an atmosphere that welcomes and normalizes different identities. With so many challenges in portraying queerness in other Hollywood productions, Atypical’s approach is something different.
Lundy-Paine and her co-star, comedian Nik Dodani, are prominently featured and openly queer actors. In Season 2, all of these female characters explore how to be themselves outside of the traditional model of heteronormative relationships. For Lundy-Paine, this means there’s plenty of space for Casey to explore her own sexuality.
“I’m just like constantly stunned at how hetero stories—even stories that claim not to be [hetero]—continue to be,” she said. “I hope that we can create a pushback against that.”
In fact, Lundy-Paine is optimistic that Casey’s coming out will be an example of the positive queer representation that fans are looking for.
As she told Vulture: “I’m queer, and I feel that for a lot of queer youth, there’s not a lot of nuanced examples of queerness on TV when it comes to teenagers. A lot of the time, someone will come out as gay and it’s about the coming-out story and then they’re gay. We have such an opportunity with Casey to be really gentle with that story and to give the characters a chance to figure it out and flail.”