Alphas – Not Supermarket Tomatoes


It’s very difficult to describe this show. It’s not like Heroes, even though the main protagonists have superhuman abilities; it’s not like The Mentalist, even though Patrick Jayne is extremely intelligent and perceptive (and often mistaken for having superpowers, when all he has is a brain that he knows how to use to its fullest ability).

Essentially, Alphas is a concept entirely in and of itself. It’s not about superpowers, or crime, or even a mix of the two (although both are involved). What it is about is a subgroup of people with heightened abilities.

I’m discussing this show and the abilities of the characters with D as I type (and, while I remember, huge credit must go to Ryan Cartwright, who plays autistic savant Gary Bell) because I – as a person with neurological “disorders” (Are they? Are we sure about that? Really?) – can empathise with at least three of the main Alphas in the show (Gary, Rachel and Hicks). I wouldn’t call myself a savant, but I do have autism to a slightly lesser degree than Gary. Like Hicks, I am slightly hyperkinetic and even have the mood swings. Rachel is hypersensitive to an impossible degree, but I identify with her heightened sensitivity to sounds and smells.

I have to have my routine. Yesterday somebody on Freecycle wasted my time so I couldn’t plan my day or do everything I usually do, and I became irritated and anxious.

I always have to have at least a foot moving – at all times. When sat for long periods I will jog my leg up and down across my knee. It annoys people but I can’t stop it because then I’m uncomfortable.

I can detect scents and hear sounds that nobody else can. Some years ago I could detect a strong scent of stale onions on D and couldn’t go near him. Nobody else could smell it at all. I can detect sounds at frequencies that the human ear is supposedly unable to pick up (Hyperacusis) and normal sound, to me, can be unbearable. I have to have prior warning before D does anything loud around the house, and I can often hear high pitched whistling or buzzing that irritates me and that nobody else can pick up. This in spite of the fact that I am slightly deaf in one ear!

While discussing these things, and discussing Alphas (which has quickly become one of our favourite American shows since Leverage) D came up with a wonderful analogy to describe me and others who are different to the norm:

I am not a supermarket tomato. I am the wrong shape and size to fit in the box; I don’t fit in with the perception of what a supermarket tomato should be. I have “imperfections” that most factory packers would reject.

But I taste just as sweet as a supermarket tomato, if not sweeter with firmer flesh. And all the best chefs know it.

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About Missus Tribble

Media volunteer for Epilepsy Action (UK) and advocate for both epilepsy and autism awareness. Seamstress, cross-stitcher, sci-fi lover, ukulele player and Chelmsford's own Pickling Pagan who wants to inherit a TARDIS when she grows up. In the process of writing an as yet unnamed book, with anecdotes and information about being epileptic and autistic - and seeing the funny side! Also an entertainment journalist for What Culture, where I write about Doctor Who.
This entry was posted in "Mutants", Alphas, Attitudes, Autism, Born This Way, Comparisons, Heightened Awareness, Hyperacusis, Hyperkenesis, Neurological, Not A Supermarket Tomato, Perception, Proud To Be Autistic, Proud To Be Me, Self-worth, Special Abilities, Synesthaesia, TV. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to Alphas – Not Supermarket Tomatoes

  1. Amy Aletheia says:

    Like this one very much. :)

  2. argylesock says:

    You make a great tomato relish.

  3. seventhvoice says:

    I love Alphas and have done ever since you first suggested it to me all those months ago. Both my son and I adore Gary’s character. What a guy and what an amazing show. Oh to be an Alpha….

  4. The Heretic says:

    I love Alphas as well. It is like X-Men done in a cop show, or maybe both Avengers and X-Men since you have the one guy who rages out like The Incredible Hulk.

    • Perhaps not surprisingly, I made a similar comparison earlier, only it was between Hicks and Hawkeye. But yes, Bill *does* remind me somewhat of Hulk! I’d say The Thing from Fantastic Four, but in the first series he’s got Hulk’s attitude, whereas Thing/Ben is a very gentle soul.

  5. Who wants to be a supermarket tomato anyway? Fitting into the “normal” mould is horribly dull and boring. Far better to be yourself with all the quirks of your personality. Besides, I can’t be friends with anyone “normal”.

  6. I think I might have to try and download this series, especially as I enjoyed heroes and there is no way I’m a supermarket tomato

    • I don’t think that any supermarket tomato would happily paint themselves blue and run around a hotel half-naked! Only in fandom, right? :)

      Alphas is definitely worth watching. All of the characters are fabulous, but I especially adore Gary. He’s loveable, the actor puts a positive spin on being autistic and the character is so VERY literal (typical autie trait) that he’s often accidentally quite hysterically funny – a very endearing soul :)

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