I have to admit I was disappointed to watch Boston Legal last night and see Christian Clemenson as Jerry “Hands” Espenson break into a bunch of tics.
I’ve seen this character in several episodes, and I was interested to watch how network writers would deal with the adventure that is Asperger’s Syndrome. His struggle with relationships seems accurate and understandable. His lack of impulse control–ditto. I’m not sure you can excuse threatening someone with a knife because of this particular diagnosis, but then watching my son, now 12, in his most sociopathic moments, sometimes I hope we’ll be able to.
Jerry is thoroughly aware of his tics, and he seems concerned about their impact on the other people he deals with, and makes the effort to control them. This certainly hasn’t been our experience, from head-jerking, to intense licking of the lips, to a range of noises. I wish it was.
Overall, though, I almost get the feeling the writers felt they had to one-up the Asperger’s because it wasn’t amusing enough. The sorts of tics (running in a circle in the courtroom after presenting to the judge, for example) we saw were bizarre. To balance this, of course, was Jerry’s adorable colleague, who’d burst into sympathy tics so he didn’t feel so out of place.
Comparing this to other impaired characters on television, I’d prefer the example of Adrian Monk. Even though he does odd things as part of his OCD, they seem very much more in character and not so calculated for laughs.
What do you think?