|[Photo: © 2010 FOX Broadcasting Co.]
I have a friend with Asperger’s syndrome. It’s a very high-functioning form of autism and it’s more common than you may think. And it’s even possibly closer to home than many Bones fans think.
I have actually wondered if perhaps our favorite forensic anthropologist could have a form of Asperger’s, but didn’t dare bring up the subject to other Bones fans, for fear of being attacked in the comments. But if you or someone you know has Asperger’s, you know it’s not such a big surprise.
Tomorrow night the new drama Parenthood premieres and one of the children is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome. So an article on NJ.com looked into the way that people with autism are dealt with on TV. One of the people they talked to was Hart Hanson, creator of Bones. Here are several paragraphs from the article, but I encourage you to go read it in its entirety:
“Parenthood” is not the first TV show to feature a regular character with the condition — but it’s one of the first to openly acknowledge that. Both physicist Sheldon Cooper played by Jim Parsons on the CBS sitcom “Big Bang Theory” and forensic anthropolgist Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) on the Fox crime drama “Bones” would appear to be classic “Aspies,” as many of those with the condition call themselves. They are smart and focused on subjects they care about, but have great difficulty understanding rules of social interaction that come easily to those around them — all classic Asperger symptoms.
“Bones” creator Hart Hanson says he based Brennan in part on an Aspie friend, but the needs of a broadcast network like Fox to get as large an audience as possible meant he couldn’t come out and say that.
“If we were on cable, we would have said from the beginning that Brennan has Asperger’s,” Hanson says. “Instead, it being a network, we decided not to label a main character, for good or for bad. But those elements are in there.”
Now that “Bones” is an established hit, Hanson has thought about a storyline for next season where Brennan explores the idea that she has Asperger’s. But he shares the concern of the “Big Bang” writers.
“We’d have to get it absolutely right,” Hanson says. “If you don’t get it right, you’re damaging people.”
I say that it’s time to address the issue and the character completely. People with Asperger’s are very capable of having good relationships and living rewarding lives. It’s time that TV showed it for what it is.
What are your thoughts about the possibility of Brennan having Asperger’s? Does it make a difference in the way you view the character? Does it help give a better understanding of both Asperger’s and Brennan?
I welcome your respectful comments.