My name is Melissa Reiner, and I am the Autism Consultant on ABC’s show, The Good Doctor. I work with the writers and producers to help ensure that the role of Dr. Shaun Murphy, as well as all of the other characters who may interact with him, is portrayed with a level of authenticity and specificity. Having a diagnosis of autism is one aspect of who this individual is, but it is imperative that we are also able to fully reveal who this impressive young man is, as a doctor and as a person first. The notes that I contribute often shape the way a scene is written, and in some instances, the way a scene is rewritten. The integrity of the show is paramount, and I am honoured to be involved in such an important show. Here are a few examples of how my input affected change in certain scenes from each episode in Season 2 of The Good Doctor.
Right before the 25 minute mark in this episode, Lea begins to cry about Hubert, the dead fish. In the original script, Shaun was slated to ask Lea if she was crying, but then to follow up him with asking her if she had fallen in love with Hubert, already?
My notes for the writers on this was as follows:
I’m not sure about Shaun asking Lea if she’d fallen in love with Hubert already. He asks if she’s crying. But Shaun’s leap to correlate her tears to her having fallen in love with Hubert seems unlikely.
If, in this episode, Shaun is working on extending his capacity toward empathy, I imagine he might be able to uncover and discern that her tears mean that she’s sad. But that would likely be the extent of his empathic triumph in this moment. The falling in love leap seems a misstep to me. Shaun’s leap, from my perspective, might sound more like, “Are you crying?” And then his big realization might amount to him then asking her, “Are you sad?”
And in this episode, Shaun asks precisely that, “Are you crying? Are you sad?”