TV’s opportunity to shed some light
I admit it. I’m nervous about how TV will portray Asperger Syndrome through the character of Zev Glassenberg when “Amazing Race” kicks off at 8 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS. Every commercial and story about the new season of “Amazing Race” mentions Glassenberg, 26, an unemployed sports fan who lives in Sherman Oaks, California. You can follow him on both Facebook and Twitter. Zev and his racing buddy Justin Kanew even have their own website. But television’s entertainment programming has done a poor job of creating a realistic picture of Asperger’s. I literally cringed when “Boston Legal” introduced its Asperger character a few years ago. The fictional Jerry Espenson is a brilliant corporate attorney played by actor Christian Clemenson. Jerry walks awkwardly with his hands strangely arranged in front of his thighs. His closest pal, at one time, is a lifesize doll. He draws a knife on a colleague. Clemenson won an Emmy for the role in 2006. But the portrayal did much to give the world an inaccurate view of Asperger’s. Maybe this time will be different. “Amazing Race,” after all, bills itself as a reality show. Maybe this time entertainment TV will actually serve up a realistic look at Zev as he makes his way across eight countries in 21 days in a quest to win $1 million. “Race” did a good job last season with deaf contestant Luke Adams and his mom Margie. I’m hoping for a repeat with Zev and Justin.