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Review of Love on the Spectrum: Season 2

Review of Love on the Spectrum: Season 2

By Nils Skudra

This weekend I had the opportunity to finish watching the second season of Love on the Spectrum, the acclaimed Netflix miniseries chronicling the dating lives of several individuals on the
autism spectrum. Picking up from where the first season left off, this season explores the continuing journey of Dani, Abbey, and James as they pursue their search for romantic partners, as well as introducing three new characters who are also taking their first steps into the world of dating. Since most people on the autism spectrum share the same desire as neurotypical individuals for companionship and affection, Season 2 provides an enlightening and heartwarming look at how each protagonist navigates the ups and downs of dating in the hope of finding their match.

The show opens with Dani, the animation expert from Season 1, discussing her dating progress with her aunt and uncle. She delves into some of the more intimate aspects of romantic relationships, asking for their input about premarital sex and whether she should broach the subject with her male counterpart during their next date. They provide her with constructive feedback, advising that she open the conversation by initially asking regular small-talk questions before raising the critical point. She follows this advice during her date with Adan, a young man on the spectrum who shares her passion for animation, and gets a very candid response from him, indicating that while he doesn’t believe in premarital sex due to his religious upbringing, he is open to it “as long as both partners consent and it is safe.” This is followed by an intimate and heartfelt kiss between them.

The show then transitions to Abbey and David, who became partners at the end of Season 1. Having been in a relationship for two years now, they embark on a world journey with Abbey’s mother and David’s sister, visiting Kenya since they both have a passionate love of animals from The Lion King. Abbey’s mom reflects that she is deeply proud of her daughter’s progress, noting her previous concern about whether she would have to continue being Abbey’s caretaker, a common sentiment among many parents of autistic individuals, but that Abbey has displayed remarkable growth through her relationship with David since he has brought out her inner confidence and desire to see the broader world. As their African trip unfolds, they have a wonderful time seeing the different animals, growing closer with each other in the process.

The season then switches to James, the young autistic man from Boston who was first introduced in Season 1. Through constant prodding from his parents, James has been searching for
potential partners after his previous match decided that they should simply remain friends. He finally connects with a young woman named Maggie, who shares his fascination with Victorian-era mansions and Greco-Roman mythology. Meeting for a date at a lavish estate in Ipswich, they discuss the different statues of Greek gods featured on the property and ask questions about each other’s lives. While James is fond of barbecued meat dishes, Maggie is a vegetarian and therefore has a strong aversion to meat in general, although James suggests the prospect of trying lab meat grown from animal cells. He is somewhat dismayed by her vegetarianism, but their date concludes on a positive note as they share a kiss before leaving the estate.

One of the new characters introduced in Season 2 is Journey, an 18-year-old girl on the autism spectrum who lives in Chicago. Journey identifies as a lesbian, stating that she has always been cognizant of her sexual orientation since childhood and that none of her family members have had any problem with it. Since she has never dated before, her parents and siblings provide her with coaching on her demeanor when going on a date, which she finds somewhat awkward since flirting necessarily involves putting on an exaggerated display of enthusiasm. Nonetheless, she takes this advice to heart and meets with two different women, both of whom are accepting of her autism and share their insights about the relationship between sexual orientation and socially prescribed gender roles.

Another new character profiled in Season 2 is Tanner, a young autistic man living in Clemson, South Carolina. He works in a local hotel, where he has a strong rapport with colleagues due to his dedicated work ethic and his enthusiasm for interacting with the public. His sister, who works in the same hotel, reflects that Tanner is highly people-oriented and attentive to detail and organization, both pivotal skills for his job, and that their family is strongly supportive of his desire for a romantic partner. Toward that end, Tanner actively engages in speed dating events and uses online dating websites, displaying a remarkable openness to meeting prospective partners of various neurodivergent backgrounds, including a girl with Downs Syndrome whom he forms a connection with.

A final new character is Connor, who lives with his family in Atlanta, Georgia. Connor has a passionate affinity for British and European culture and etiquette, periodically putting on a British accent or speaking Italian whenever the occasion arises for a discussion of his interests. He reflects that he has never dated before and therefore has a pronounced anxiety about what to say and how to behave when going on a date. Nonetheless, with encouragement and coaching from his mother and siblings, he goes to a speed dating event, where he meets a girl named Emily who is also on the spectrum. Initially, he is offput by the fact that she does not share some of his interests, and he hastily marks her as a “No,” but after reflecting on the scenario he decides that he should give her a second chance and calls the event host to ask for Emily’s contact information. He calls her and apologizes for marking her as a “No,” explaining that he was very nervous since it was his first time attending a speed dating event and asks Emily if she would be interested in meeting again. She displays an understanding attitude, noting that it was also her first time, and agrees to go on another date with Connor. As the season progresses, Connor develops a greater comfort level and confidence in his interactions with Emily, finally mustering the courage to ask her if she will be his girlfriend.

In summation, Love on the Spectrum: Season 2 sheds further light on the dating experiences of people on the autism spectrum in a sensitive and heartfelt manner, capturing how both the original protagonists from Season 1 and the new characters learn and grow in their search for soulmates. A particularly noteworthy aspect is the support that they receive from their parents and families, who provide strong emotional support and coaching on important dating skills. Although their approach sometimes reaches the level of micromanagement (exemplified by James’ parents), this support is critical for helping autistic individuals to find success in their romantic endeavors, especially since they might have significant anxiety about initiating the dating process themselves. By watching this miniseries, parents of people on the spectrum will hopefully be encouraged to give their support to their children so that they may find their lifelong soulmates.

Nils Skudra

I am an artist on the autism spectrum. I received an MA specializing in Civil War/Reconstruction history at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, and I have been drawing hundreds of Civil War-themed pictures since the age of five and a half. I recently completed a secondary Master’s in Library and Information Sciences. As a person with autism, I have a very focused set of interests, and the Civil War is my favorite historical event within that range of interests. It is therefore my fervent desire to become a Civil War historian and have my Civil War artwork published in an art book for children. I am also very involved in the autism community and currently serve as the President/Head Officer of Spectrum at UNCG, an organization I founded for students on the autism spectrum. The goal of the organization is to promote autism awareness and foster an inclusive community for autistic students on the UNCG campus. The group has attracted some local publicity and is steadily gaining new members, and we shall be hosting autism panels for classes on campus in the near future.

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