Creator Jason Katims is best-known for “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood.”
But he said his latest drama series, “As We See It,” is personal. It’s based on the 2018 Israeli series “On the Spectrum.”
“I have a son who is on the spectrum,” Katims, 61, told The Post. “A few years ago, before I started thinking about this show, he was becoming a young adult – the age of these characters in this show. And I was thinking a lot about his story and his future. You open up the Autism Speaks website, and you see a picture of a beautiful little boy. Those kids grow up. So, for a very personal reason, I was thinking about this subject matter. Then I saw the Israeli show.”
“As We See It,” premiering Jan. 21 on Amazon, follows Jack (Rick Glassman), Harrison (Albert Rutecki), and Violet (Sue Ann Pien), twentysomething roommates on the autism spectrum, as they strive to keep jobs, date, navigate the world and make friends – with help from Violet’s brother, Van (Chris Pang), Jack’s dad, Lou (Joe Mantegna) and their aide, Mandy (Sosie Bacon).
Computer whiz Jack struggles to be polite when he feels that other people aren’t up to his level of intelligence, which causes problems in the publishing house where he works. Harrison, who is addicted to TV, struggles to leave the apartment, overwhelmed with stimuli when he steps outside. Violet’s intense desire to date leads to some ill-fated flirting in the fast food spot where she works, and her older brother restricts her access to dating apps on her phone.
None of the characters are directly based on Katims’ 23-year-old son, Sawyer, he said.
“One of the things that has helped me to write the show is that it’s not autobiographical. So, I don’t have to worry about, ‘Can I tell that story, should I not, it’s not mine to tell?’ I don’t have to worry about my son’s privacy or anybody else’s,” he said. “I am of course drawing from my experience and the people I know on the spectrum – not just my son. It’s been a long time now that I’ve been close to this subject matter.”
His son has not watched “As We See it” yet, he said.
“The funny thing about my son – he doesn’t like watching my shows. Sawyer is the biggest football fan in the world, and I can’t get him to watch ‘Friday Night Lights.’ He’s like, ‘I can watch real football.’ So I will try to get him to watch [‘As We See It’], and we’ll see what happens.”
Speaking of “Friday Night Lights,” which ran on NBC from 2006-2011, Katims said that it’s difficult for him to reflect on it from a distance.
“To me, ‘Friday Night Lights,’ was such a seminal part of my career and my life. I know a lot of time has gone by now, but it doesn’t feel that way to me,” he said. “Those characters feel so close to my heart that I don’t really look at it with the perspective that maybe I should be looking at it with, because it doesn’t feel that far away from me.
“On the other hand, I’m reminded of the time that’s passed when I put on my TV and I see Jesse Plemons and Connie [Britton] and Michael B. Jordan and Kyle [Chandler]. When I see these people whose careers have just exploded in this amazing way, it gives me such joy to see their journeys since ‘Friday Night Lights.’
“I feel very proud that I had the opportunity to work with them on a show that I know was as meaningful to them as it was to me.”