In interviews about the upcoming third season of Fox's Fringe, actress Jasika Nicole reveals that her character, federal agent Astrid Farnsworth, has Asperger's ... well, one version of her, anyway.
The second season ended with two universes in play -- the one we've been following from the start, and the alternate version in which each character has a duplicate. Alternate Astrid was seen briefly in the closing episodes, looking tough and avoiding eye contact, but will have a bigger role in the new season, which will alternate between the universes.
In an Entertainment Weekly interview quoted on CraveOnline.com, Nicole describes her new character: "Alterna-Astrid is autistic. She's got Asperger's. You only get a glimpse of her in the alternative universe at the end of the season finale. But in season 3 you get to see her a lot more. [You get] to see her do her work and she's like night and day with the [normal] Astrid. The Astrid we know is super sympathetic, emotional and friendly. The other Astrid doesn't have those social graces. She's not communicative or personable. So all she wants to do is read her data on a computer and bark out information to people."
Nicole mentions in a USA Weekend interview that she has a sister with autism, and has lifted some of her inspiration for the character from that family connection. "I'm trying to not incorporate everything about my sister, but just things that I know really well to take from my own experience and put into alternate Astrid."
But as weird science gives us a new character on the spectrum, weird science also takes away. The Syfy series Eureka until recently had among its characters a child with autism, but as described in a post on the blog Raising Asperger's Kids, a time-travel storyline changed the past in ways that rippled into the future, and when the travelers returned they found differences that included the child in question no longer being autistic.
Writes blogger Elise, "When it was discussed on the show how that could have happened, there was the pat answer that autism is the outcome of a combination of genes and environment and an untold number of coincidences that come together to create the autism. ... What annoyed me is that some writer in his little office somewhere on a Hollywood sound lot has decided to take an issue that is so much a part our lives and give it short shrift as if autism is just another whoopsidaisy."
Have you spotted a character with autism or Asperger syndrome on TV lately, whether diagnosed by the show's creators or just suspected by you? Read my list of characters on the spectrum, and then add your own observations.
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