Showrunner Jason Katims has a niche. With shows like Friday Night Lights and Parenthood, Katims wanted to tell stories about good people who are trying to do good to one another, even when they fail and cause pain. With his new show As We See It for Amazon, Katims continues to bring that ethos to his work. As We See It tells the story of three autistic roommates striving to become more independent, build their relationships, and thrive in a society that is determined to make them feel different.
"That's one of the things that I've always believed in," Katims explained in an interview with PopCulture.com. "I believe that people are trying to do their best. It's one of the things I've always started with. I think that people are always trying. And yes, people are flawed and they make mistakes and they get their hearts broken and they do good things and they do bad things, but they're trying to do their best. That's something that I always try to bring into the shows."
As We See It really digs into the experiences of people with autism with nuance and sensitivity, portraying them in a three-dimensional way that is not often seen in pop culture. Katims, whose son is on the spectrum, wanted to ensure that the actors portraying people with autism were on the spectrum themselves. This led to the casting of Rick Glassman, Sue Ann Pien, and Albert Rutecki.
"There's been nothing more important to me in telling this story than trying to do it with respect and dignity to everybody involved, and particularly to the neurodiverse characters," Katims said. "The first thing that happened when the show was greenlit was I called Cami Patton, who's a casting director who I knew would be great for this show because she's personally connected to the material and said, 'I want to try to cast the show authentically.' That was literally the first thing we did when the show was greenlit and Amazon was completely on board with that idea. And so we did a search for the three leads and wanted to cast them, if possible at all, with neurodiverse actors. And the result of that is the show that you've seen, these three incredible actors, Sue Anne and Albert and Rick, who all identify as being on the spectrum."
Ultimately, Katims wanted to have as many neurodiverse people working on the project as possible. "We also tried to have neurodiverse voices on both sides of the camera. So we had people in the writer's room, in the editing room, on set, in the production office," Katims explained. "It was something that was very important I think in trying to like make the show feel as authentic and real as possible. This is a very personal show to me. I have a son who's on the spectrum, so I really wanted to take care to try to honor the characters on the show."
The first season of As We See It is available to stream on Amazon on Jan. 21.