Geek Girl review: Neurodivergence for the win!

Emily Carey in Geek Girl

Geek Girl is a lively comedy series about a teen who accidentally becomes a well known model. She was neurodivergent, although never labeled as such in the series. She was brilliant but socially awkward, bullied at school as a geek, and had only one friend. She was clumsy and fell down a lot, which figured into one of the plot’s big turning points.

Geek Girl is about Harriet Manners, played beautifully by Emily Carey, who is autistic herself. It’s based on the books by Holly Smale, a prolific author who is also autistic.

Harriet’s best friend Nat (Rochelle Harrington) was all about fashion. She dreamed of becoming a model. When a class Emily and Nat both took won a trip to a fashion show in London, Nat was determined to get noticed by Wilbur (Emmanuel Imani) and signed as a model with his agency.

Wilbur noticed Harriet instead, just as she knocked over a display of hats. He wanted her to attend a tryout for a modeling job. She agreed, if Nat could come too.

Tim Downie, Jemima Rooper, Rochelle Harrington, Hersha Verity, and Emily Carey in Geek Girl
Harriet, Nat, and their parents headed for modeling tryouts.

Harriet wore a Halloween costume to the tryouts, complete with large spider legs attached to her back. Her parents (Tim Downie and Jemima Rooper) and Nat’s mom (Hersha Verity) supported them. Harriet’s stepmom was a lawyer and helpful.

Harriet got picked. Nat did not. Nat found a way into fashion on her own later in the series. There was conflict between them when Harriet got the job Nat wanted. Their arguments showed how arguing with a literal minded autistic girl presents challenges. The series was replete with examples of the literal way Harriet’s mind worked.

Liam Woodrum and Emily Carey in Geek Girl

Harriet met the very cute model Nick Park (Liam Woodrum). She liked him, and he liked her too. She wasn’t socially adept enough to know that at first. As Harriet got deeper into the world of modeling, she and Nick leaned into a budding romance, although that was not the focus of the story.

Nick’s aunt was Yuji Lee (Sandra Yi Sencindiver), a famous fashion designer who decided Harriet had the look she wanted. She put Harriet in some of her campaigns.

We got a lot of Harriet’s internal monologue as voice overs. We saw her try to figure out social situations, try to block out external stimulation and noisy crowds, and try to deal with the bullies at school. Emily Carey did a beautiful job with the part and the voice overs added dimension to the neurodivergent traits we saw in Harriet’s behavior.

Zac Looker and Emily Carey in Geek Girl

Harriet’s neighbor Toby (Zac Looker) was as quirky as she was, but in different ways. The two of them had an enlightening conversation late in the series that describes what neurodivergent teens go through perfectly. There’s a clip of that scene on Instagram. It’s worth watching and doesn’t give away any spoilers.

Modeling probably wasn’t a viable life plan for Harriet, but doing it for a while helped her. She found strength to face the bullies, to be who she was without apology, and to brave a first kiss.

The entire season of this comedy/drama is available now on Netflix. I totally enjoyed it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments.

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