I don’t usually do this.
But after watching the Pilot episode of the new CBS series Scorpion, I feel compelled to address the show on my website and write my version of a review.
Assuming most of my readers haven’t seen it yet, I’ll give a quick summary. Scorpion deals with a team of adult genius misfits whose ringleader has a 197 IQ, which is clearly an outlier on the edges of the range of profound giftedness. Based on some semblance of a true story, the hero Walter starts a company of “government-funded problem solvers” and will likely embark on a journey of crime fighting and life-saving.
So basically, it’s an action show (not usually my favorite genre).
Yet it promises to be so much more than an action show. While giftedness involves a difference in brain wiring, most of the dialogue and interactions in this show explore the lived experience of those with these significant differences. And in many ways, it feels very real-to-life.
I hope Scorpion continues and thrives, with perhaps improved coherence of action scenes. But even if all we had was the Pilot, this show is a great support to families of gifted and twice-exceptional (2e) kids (not to mention the healing impacts it can have on other gifted adults).
Scorpion makes fun of and celebrates, in a perfect combination of humble acceptance and exuberant delight, so much of what the gifted/2e experience can feel like.
Whereas I can laugh at the characters in The Big Bang Theory, Scorpion actually has more therapeutic benefit. In large part, this is because a group of adults, at various stages of their developmental path that is impacted by genius, encounter a kiddo of their same ilk. Without giving away too much, this kid has a loving parent, but still needs further advocacy and understanding. The same team that is working to save the day for a crisis manages to keep their eye on this kid’s best interest.
And as someone who advocates and works with these types of children, it is incredibly moving.
If this show is to fulfill its potential, it will demonstrate further interactions of the kid blossoming with a network of peers, without the insulting magical thinking of some other shows (I cringed at the one episode of Touch I saw). Popular culture needs realistic depictions of what is technically rare but more common than acknowledged.
Sometimes it takes one gifted/2e individual to know another. And it is certainly beneficial for kids to have a network of caring peers (at least a few of which would have adult privilege) who can help decode them, and Scorpion seems to promise more of that.
I have long counseled families on the importance of peers for their kids with similar intensity of passion, if not the exact same passions. Still, every time an adult honestly and vulnerably shares how their mind works, it adds data points to a young person’s understanding. They may be outliers, but they don’t have to be alone. I know the moment when a kid has a sense of being known and understood; it begins a healing path of more joyful development.
I am grateful to all of the shows that extend the empathy space of what an experience of profound giftedness can feel like.
In fact, Scorpion can serve as a wonderful conversation starter for families:
“How do you think the character coped with their specific preferences?”
“How would you balance flexible thinking and assertive communication in a similar crisis moment?”
“Which character do you relate the most to?”
“Did any behaviors puzzle you?”
There are also career implications:
“Would you rather work alone or on a team?”
“What impact would you like to have on the world from your daily efforts?”
What I know is that I cried multiple times while watching Scorpion, and as far as I can trace in my self-reflection, the tears were about the chance for a young person to be known and understood.
The caring adults who love these gifted/2e kids can receive encouragement that some possible challenges in social relatedness — perseveration on a process, deeply driven desires for a better world, or a constellation of other peculiarities — can be only one part of an exquisite whole.
And while I don’t have the abilities of Team Scorpion, I do love helping families communicate and understand each other better. Hit me up for a free 17-minute consultation by signing up for my mailing list.
So, have you watched it yet? Have your kids seen it? I’d love to hear what it brought up for you. Let me know in the comments below.