Sun Jun 7, 2020

The web series W. presents autism as a superpower

Frédéric Zeimet received the award for Best Screenplay at the Seriale 2020

W. is the first web series from Luxembourg. Created by Frédéric Zeimet, it follows the story of W. (Catherine Elsen), who is the main suspect in a missing person case of three children. Being an autist, W. struggles with finding out who she is and how she got involved in the crimes. Over the course of six episodes, the series gives an insight to the thought process of autistic people as well as W.‘s role in the solution of the case.

W. is available for streaming on Youtube, Instagram, Facebook and Vimeo. While the audio is Luxembourgish, viewers can choose to enable English and French subtitles. According to the producers, the series is intended to be watched during small breaks in everyday life. This is supported by an average run time of five to ten minutes per episode. Originally, the single episodes‘ release followed an inconsistent schedule, creating further suspense. This contradicts the light-hearted marketing prior to the series‘ release on social media, but is picked up again in later episodes.

While W. does feature funny moments, Frédéric Zeimet ensured that autism is not displayed in a disrespectful or inappropriate way. Hence, Zeimet worked in close cooperation with autisme.lu to display the behaviour of an autistic person as accurately as possible. Noteworthy here are the stylistic devices used to realize the thought process of autistic people.

The first episode of W. is mostly narrated by the protagonist’s thoughts, supported by white lines, symbols and numbers appearing and disappearing on screen. These mark points of interest, both for the viewer and main character. W. also appears to focus on seemingly irrelevant details and shows great knowledge about her surrounding environment. However, she fails to follow simple instructions when caught by two police officers, displaying her as exceptionally smart, but struggling in the social skills department. While she notices small details, W. fails to comprehend her situation and seemingly cannot remember anything regarding her alleged crimes or how she got into the woods in the first place. Finally, at the point of her arrest, she does not seem to care about having to go to jail. Instead, she asks the police officers whether her cell will have a bed. When this is declined, W. faints on the spot, stating that she feels very tired. As the series continues, W. helps the overwhelmed police officers to solve the crime by making use of her qualities caused by Asperger’s syndrome. Being highly analytical, both for reading clues and people’s emotions, she manages to quickly figure out a possible suspect and gets him to confess. W. manages to smartly tie the solution of the case with W.s personal interests, as it also leads to rediscovering herself, not by remembering, but by selection. Autism is not displayed as a disadvantage, In fact, it is rather treated as a form of superhuman strength. W. is written in a way that focuses on the humanity of its characters. When it does play with stereotypes, like police officers liking donuts, it does so ironically for the sake of comic relief. Finally, the connection between the life of W. and the police men’s work is picked up again at the end of episode six. While W. originally turned down supporting further investigations, she is drawn into them for very personal interests in a classic cliffhanger fashion. To add to this, cliffhangers are an outstanding device of W. to represent the process of solving a case as well as keeping the viewer interested in the series. Every episode reveals a tiny bit more about the life of W. and the solution of the missing persons case. This is also reflected in the episode’s titles, which on their own do not make much sense. Only in the last episode they start making sense and are given meaning. Furthermore, it is shown that the main characters name W. is chosen by herself, and can be interpreted to stand for German Wissen or Wessen, which means knowledge in German and Luxembourgish respectively, a fitting pick for the walking encyclopedia ‚W.‘ is.

Frédéric Zeimet is an accomplished screenwriter and director born in Luxembourg. He was selected for the International Screenwriters Festival, the Screenwriter’s White Night at the Cannes Film Festival and ultimately won the Jury Prize at the Best Junior Script Prize in France in 2010. Further writing works include Blind Spot (2012) and Comeback (2012). Due to being multilingual (Luxembourgish, French, German and English), he was able to work as a script doctor on numerous films. W. marks Zeimets debut in directing and producing. After already having won the Gold Award for Best International Web Series at the 8h DC Web Fest, W. won the award for the Best Screenplay at this year’s Seriale. Frédéric Zeimet did also make an appearance as an Educational Speaker. Additionally, Catherine Elsen was nominated for Best Actress.

Author: Justin Döpp

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