The Best Autistic and Autistic-Coded Characters in Animation

Three years ago, I wrote a piece for Ms. about Hollywood’s blatant and continued exclusion of Autistic people, as well as the ableist tropes film and TV have continued to push in its depiction of Autism. Since the article was published, I have seen more positive strides taken in terms of Autism representation in the media, with many of those strides coming from the world of animation.

As we wind down World Autism Month, here are some of my favorite Autistic and Autistic-coded characters in animation.

Watch and Weep: 10 Most Disappointing Series Cancellations of 2023

Shows centering on women, LGBTQ+ individuals and people of color are often the first to get the axe—undermining streaming platforms’ supposed commitment to diversity.

The disappointments of past cancellations and the victory of the writers’ strike offer two sides of the same story—illustrating the foibles of a top-down approach to television production that emphasizes revenue over meaningful content. 

Here are our critic’s top picks for the most disappointing cancellations of 2023.

Gender, Corruption and Unbridled Power in Prime Series ‘The Power’: The Ms. Q&A With Naomi Alderman

Written by Naomi Alderman and adapted into a TV series for Prime Video, The Power asks a deceptively simple question: What would happen if, overnight, girls and some women worldwide gained the ability to administer electric shocks at will?

Ms. spoke with Naomi Alderman about her novel and how she sees its television adaptation resonating in the years since the book’s initial release.

‘The Owl House’ Versus ‘Harry Potter’: Magic School Shows, Queer Representation and Medical Autonomy

The series finale of The Owl House premiered last weekend on the Disney Channel—a story of a neurodivergent Latina girl named Luz Noceda, who stumbles into a realm inhabited by witches and demons.

Just this month, Warner Bros announced a new decade-long TV series adaptation of all seven Harry Potter books. But we don’t need another Harry Potter adaptation. We don’t need a rich, white, abled, cisgender, heterosexual woman with limited feminist views representing or speaking for us. What we need are new stories—better stories. Stories that better represent human diversity and actively seek to include as many different voices as possible. The Owl House was one of those stories, and while I’m heartbroken it ended sooner than it should have, I know there will be more.

‘Yellowjackets’: A Tale of Cannibalism and … Feminism?

Another season of the award-winning Showtime series Yellowjackets compares female empowerment then and now, contrasting girls of the 1990s with the women they are today.

There’s a lot going on in this brilliantly suspenseful show, including some spectacular deconstructions of stereotypes—good and bad—but what really stands out to me are the questions it asks about competition. For this viewer who came of age in the ‘90s—benefiting from a lot of self-empowerment messaging but not much feminism, let alone intersectional feminism—Yellowjackets really hits.

It’s Not Just at the Oscars Where Women Filmmakers Are Left Out

This weekend’s Oscar awards have generated headlines about the lack of diversity among nominees—notably, this year, no women were nominated for Best Director. In fact, in the Academy’s 94-year history, it’s nominated just seven women in the category.

Whether the stories told are fiction or nonfiction, there continue to be considerable obstacles for women and nonbinary filmmakers when attempting to break the glass ceiling of storytelling on the big screen. This weekend’s awards ceremony only highlights how much further we still have to go.

She Wins: Here’s to Powerful Black Women Leaders on Screens

The 80th Golden Globes is days away. Viola Davis is the only Black female actor nominated in the Motion Pictures-Drama category.

In The Woman King, Davis plays the Agojie general of an all-female warrior unit and embodies the fierceness of this leader, while delivering a performance characterized by maternal softness and emotional vulnerability—traits often reserved on screen for white femininity. While not nominated for any Golden Globes this year, Bridgerton received 15 Emmy Award nominations in 2022 and this spring another powerful Black woman graces the screen, Queen Charlotte. Bridgerton is an opportunity to reevaluate diversity, equity and inclusion on the screen. Casting people of color provides jobs to talented actors who would otherwise be overlooked, but mere “inclusion” in the frame is insufficient.

How ‘Fleishman Is in Trouble’ Made Me a More Empathic Doctor

Watching the novel-turned-television show Fleishman Is in Trouble now, I am struck by how Rachel’s traumatic birth left the Fleishmans in trouble. Her birth story helped me realize how much my own traumatic birth transformed me as a doctor.

The show helps us feel the absurdity in insinuating that Rachel could have moved on from her delivery simply and gracefully, content to be alive and physically unscathed, perhaps attending therapy to help her cope. Taffy Brodesser-Akner shrewdly summed this all up when she wrote, Rachel “was what this doctor thought she was. She was nothing. She was just a woman.”