Atypical’s Slow-Burning Romance Is a Progressive Showcase of Queer Teen Love


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[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Season 3 of Atypical. Read at your own risk!]

After a slow-burn reveal that Casey (Brigette Lundy-Paine) and Izzie (Fivel Stewart) had feelings for each other during Season 2 of Atypical, the writers did not feel any pressure to press the gas pedal on having the two track stars act on their feelings. Instead, the Netflix comedy played the long game in Season 3, having the teenagers navigate exactly what those feelings were and how they felt about having them, and then having them figure out what to do about them.

Aside from the confusion of realizing she was interested in another girl, Casey also had to deal with the fact that her feelings for Izzie meant that her relationship with her boyfriend, Evan (Graham Rogers), had to end. Their once swoony first love had to be given the right amount of time to dissolve in order to make room for Casey and Izzie to truly explore their feelings.

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“The frustration of it being so drawn out was part of the season,” Lundy-Paine told TV Guide at a Season 3 premiere event in Hollywood. “[Casey]’s relationship with Evan became more and more fraught and more and more like melancholy. You knew that it had to end — things like [Casey and Izzie’s feelings] weren’t going away. I think that’s like what this season’s about.”

The tension between the two friends built until a kiss near the end of the season left both of them with no doubt about where they stood with each other. However, they then had to face the outside world, which presented its own set of challenges. Izzie, for one, struggled to publicly show her affection for Casey as she grew used to the idea of them actually being in a relationship. They got on the same page by the end of the season, but realistically Stewart admits that fear is something that Izzie will continue to have to deal with.

Brigette Lundy-Paine and Fivel Stewart, <em>Atypical</em>Brigette Lundy-Paine and Fivel Stewart, Atypical

“I think in this season there [were] a lot of lessons to be learned for Izzie, and so I feel like if there were a Season 4 she would definitely be more into it and more into showing everyone,” Stewart told us. “I feel like in reality there would still be that struggle, just because it’s so new and everything that’s new or uncomfortable makes you feel like a little unsteady about it. But no, I feel like she’d be secure. I feel like she’s secure with her feelings about Casey.”

While Atypical plays true to the fear and uncertainty of acknowledging these feelings, the series also never forces Casey or Izzie to define their sexuality with a specific label, which felt right to the actors playing out the storyline.

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“Those things, they don’t matter. They don’t exist,” Lundy-Paine said. “Those are all just ways to box us in. There’s no such thing as being straight, in my opinion. Like being gay, everything is a spectrum.”

“It’s all about phases too,” Stewart added. “What are you feeling right now? That’s what you’re feeling. And if you’re feeling something later, then that’s what you’re feeling too.”

While feelings may be transient, both Lundy-Paine and Stewart are hoping that Casey and Izzie can last for the long haul. Atypical has not been renewed for Season 4 yet, but if they get the chance to continue playing the characters, they want to take a deep dive into a realistic, queer relationship.

“[I want to explore] a strong girl-on-girl relationship, one that lasts.” Stewart said. “A lot of shows that have girl-on-girl, boy-on-boy, they always, like, fizzle out and so I feel like it’d be really important to have a really [stable relationship].”

The actors also know that there are young people watching this season who can relate to Casey and Izzie’s situation. Lundy-Paine had one thing to say to those curious teens who aren’t sure what their next steps should be.

“Just go for it,” they said. “Love yourself so dearly. Take care of yourself.”

Atypical Season 3 is now on Netflix.

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