Not Your Average Medical Show

Scrubs

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Scrubs is a television show that first aired in 2001.  It went on for nine seasons and ended in May of 2010.

The show was loosely based around real life Dr. Johnathan Doris and his experience as a medical resident at Brown Medical School. Hence the main character being named Dr. John Dorian (JD).

How is this different than any other medical show?

Scrubs is a sitcom, whereas other shows like Grey’s Anatomy and House are dramas.

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In shows like Grey’s and House, there is a crisis every single day. In Grey’s, there have been plane crashes, car crashes, bombs, and even bridge collapses. In House, they brought back smallpox, introduced aliens (hallucinations due to a brain tumor), and have loads of patients with diseases that only one doctor can diagnose.

In Scrubs, the events that happen take place during the ordinary days at a hospital, between the crises, where doctors treat regular cases like cancer and genetic diseases.

Medical shows as a brand

The drama shows brand the medical profession as thrilling, dramatic, and full of new experiences. This idea of the medical profession is not very realistic, as thrilling, dramatic, new experiences don’t happen every day the way the shows depict them.

Branding the role of the intern in a hospital is even more askew. In Grey’s Anatomy, the main characters start off as interns, just like in Scrubs, however from day one, they are doing new and exciting procedures and learning all sorts of crazy medical things. This contradicts the idea of interns in Scrubs where the interns take classes, treat patients with simple symptoms, and are basically the attending physician’s lackeys.

Essentially, the drama shows give off the wrong impression of medical shows, and especially the interns.

What makes Scrubs so great?

Authenticity.

Authenticity is/are the culture space(s) where people find self identity, creativity, politics, and religion/spirituality. Scrubs does an amazing job depicting all four of these.

Self Identity

In this show, JD is extremely caring and constantly puts the interest of others before his own. At the end of the day, the important things to him are his friends, and as long as he has those, he is happy.

JD’s view on life helped me realize what is important to me, as the character is one that I look up to. Thinking about why I idolize JD showed me that I also put others before myself and care more about relationships than tangible, material objects.

Creativity

Just because the show doesn’t have crazy diseases or huge accidents leavings dozens injured doesn’t mean the show is boring. Even though the show mainly focuses on common illnesses, the show finds fun ways to go about them.

For example, in season 6 episode 4, one patient’s heart stops and is coding. The solution, a box of kittens!

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I think it’s a safe assumption that no other medical show has done this before.

Politics

While the show is a sitcom, it tackles real world issues.

In this instance, season 6 episode 7, they tackle the idea of war and whether it is beneficial or not. Throughout this episode, the cast breaks into two teams, one for and one against war, but by the end, everyone is united into one team, which is the main theme of the episode: unity. Everyone completely forgets about the idea of war and focuses on working together.

Religion/Spirituality

The two main nurses, Carla and Laverne are very religiously motivated in the show.  Even though they work in the hospital and deal with death every day, their faith stays strong.

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Their idea of faith is in direct contrast with the main attending physician’s, Perry Cox. Cox is very anti-faith and god because he has been working in the hospital for so long and has seen so much death.

However, in season 5 episode 5, Cox’s views on faith are challenged when his son is getting baptized, and also a patient becomes better after a night of prayer. In the end, the show goes back to one its main points: unity. Cox stops trying to explain the diagnoses and just lets whatever happen happen. He then goes on to let his son get baptized to better his relationship with his extremely religious sister who was the one that insisted on the baptism.

So What? Why does this matter?

As I said earlier, the dramatic medical shows like Grey’s Anatomy and House show a new crises happening every other day. These shows brand the medical profession as thrilling because of these crazy cases. However, that is not all there is to the medical profession.

Scrubs shows that the regular every day life in a hospital can be just as fun and thrilling as those days with major crises. Additionally, it was labeled as the most accurate depiction of the medical profession on TV by Joanna Weiss in her Slate article where she interviewed multiple doctors on their view on medical profession in TV.

Scrubs shows us that you don’t need something crazy and thrilling to keep the audience alive. It is the most realistic in regards to not only regular day to day cases, but also the medical profession as well. In Grey’s, interns are doing procedures and working on cases that in Scrubs, only attending physicians would be working on. So the idea of an intern and the difficulty of their work is very different between the shows.

 

 

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