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Shirley, you've got a lot of explaining to do...

Posted Nov 10 2008 4:51pm
I've spoken up for Jerry and Boston Legal a couple of times here. I've never, ever condoned the Asperger's Defense as an excuse for criminal behavior, whether the perpetrator is fictional or real. But I like Jerry that much, I identify with his quirks and am willing to view pretty much anything that occurs at BL as a part of the general surreality of the firm. The very implausibility of the situations the show presents is what makes it fun.
So I've given Boston Legal time off for good behavior. After all, some recent story lines have gone on to explore the discrimination and ridicule Jerry encounters and his growing acceptance of himself as a "very odd man". The strategies he has used to navigate the ultra-neurotypical world of courtroom law have been believable and poignant. Damn it, I just like Jerry.
Last night, a parole violation occurred, when Shirley, for no good reason, blurted out that Jerry's Asperger's was a mitigating factor in his earlier attack on her. The statement added nothing to the scene, in which Shirley discussed with partner Paul Lewinson the possibility of giving Espenson his job back. Yes the whole plot is ludicrous; only at Boston Legal could a person be re-hired after threatening to kill the boss. But what an opportunity the writers missed here!
Boston Legal, for all its shenanigans, sometimes does a pretty good job of whittling away some of the nonsense surrounding current issues. This would have been the place for a discussion of what it really means to use a diagnosis of autism as a legal excuse for violent behavior. This would have been so much more compatible with the recent development of Jerry's character, as well as a boost to the show's credibility. In the crucial balance between social satire and buffoonery, BL could use a little ballast on the satirical side. Instead of an argument though, Lewinson responded with a shrug.
No, I'm not giving up on Jerry. I won't boycott the show. I like his company, even as I recognize the huge flaws in his character and in the show's general understanding of AS. I do think they are trying, but they've still got a long way to go. And they are not the only ones. By which I mean, if I want to see a visible, out-of-the-closet, bona-fide Aspie, what are my other choices? If Jerry's the only one "representing", I want to see him and his colleagues doing a better job of it.
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