Thursday, April 02, 2009

Why We Love Hospital TV Shows

I certainly welcome your thoughts on the topic. I've never been an ER watcher, my wife was, and obviously many others were as ER ends it's 15th and final season this year.

While I'm not an ER watcher, I've certainly had my own favorite medical shows I've enjoyed, most notably House MD, but I could rattle off a list of medical dramas, comedies, period pieces, and thrillers that have captured TV audiences.

In addition to ER and House M.D., there is/has been: Chicago Hope, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Doogie Howser MD, LA Doctors, St. Elsewhere, Nurses, The Doctors, M*A*S*H, Scrubs, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, Nip/Tuck, Diagnosis Murder, and General Hospital.

(Can you think of any others?)

What's the deal with hospitals, doctors, and medical television?

Some of the shows listed above clearly are more about the doctors/staff relationships, while others deal with medical intrigue and the patients.

Here are 12 reasons I think we love Medical Television:

1. Anyone can get sick, the poor, the rich, the famous, doctors, and when we are sick we are often forced to be lowered to submit to the care provider. To see people equalized in such a way is intriguing and humanizing.

2. We all have doctors, and we wonder what they're really like.

3. It's easy to be scared of the unknown, especially with our health. To see doctors solve problems, or people deal with doctors who cannot solve their problems helps us work out our own fears.

4. TV shows about corporate accountants and factory workers tend to lack the same type of "daily action" that cop and medical shows offer

5. Characters can be easily worked in and out of story lines as need be, and don't have to be based single personalities.

6. Medical shows can deal with all sorts of tough social issues, whether it's telling a child they're not biologically related, dealing with broken relations in tough times, donor-patient relationships, patient confidentiality, care for the uninsured, and aging.

7. It's always easy to have heartwarming episodes around the holidays, often with families reuniting, couples finding out their having a baby, or babies being born.

8. Doctor/Nurse/Patient/Staff relationships can not only be intriguing, but can also be intriguing when a complete strangers life is on the line.

9. We long for "doctor" like personalities -- people that are in control, articulate, and are leaders. Even think about characters like Jack Shepherd on's not a doctor show, but the lead is still a doctor.

10. Because we highly esteem doctors, we are relieved to see that they can have problems too.

11. Hospital shows can often be episodic and focus on the individual patients, but the intrigue that is created by that little bit of interpersonal drama that pulls you along to "see what's going to happen," but because it's so limited you don't get warn out.

12. Medical arguments between physicians can be intriguing and stressful because the right decision has huge implications, and there isn't the opportunity for a do-over.

Why do you think we love hospital TV shows?


Lorna said...

Who could think of more reasons than that? except for the shallow "they're always so hunky". Oh, are there women doctors on TV?

RC said...

@ Lorna, there are certainly woman doctors...but it seems like they're generally agressive characters with often indearing characteristics...all the same, they are typically (not always) supporting characters to male doctors -- a female challenge to their alpha-male-ness.

Dad said...

Wasn't there one about a coroner "Quincy M.D." or something like that? Does Dr. Who count?

My recent medical experience makes me wish life were more like TV. They never show people getting the bill on TV. They also tend to follow doctors who are uber qualified and "always win". Even with all the training I think most doctors are just regular people doing their best to justify getting paid $230 for a 3 minute conversation.

Sorry for venting all over your comment page. I think your spot on about why we like it.

Anonymous said... a nurse, I think that it is really interesting how it is the doctors who start the IVs, call the Cors, transport the patients to x-ray, administer drugs. Of course there is also the issue of the relationships we see (or don't as they are in the supply closet.) I think the nurses are at the desk nibbling on the delicious cookies that the patients bring for them!

RC said...

@ bennett, no joke - i hate those bills -- even with Insurance (and why do they send out some many of those "this is not a bill" statmenets before you get the real bill?)

@ anon, those supply closet scenes...pretty gross if you ask me. Bad for general hospital sanitation if you ask me.

Dawn V. said...

I personally can't stand hospital TV shows because they seem so cheap to me - easy drama that's all romanticized and clouded. Then there's all that swooning and love makin and sarcasm and personal troubles that I frankly don't care about in hospital setting. I can never get into the stories and wonder who's effing who and what not, I'm always like: com'on doc - there are ppl dying! Focus now! (eh-em, to quote Bennett - "sorry for venting all over your comment page...")

Anonymous said...

I'll "second the vote" for "Quincy" w/ among others Jack Klugman.

also "Trapper John, M.D."

Would we count "Bones"?

How about "Emergency!"? Well, OK, that was only partly in a hospital and mostly about Gage and DeSoto on locations. (..which, I'll add, I was a big fan as a young'un, but at one point, it dawned on me, gosh, I could have one of these horrific fires in MY home, and it kinda freaked me out for months.)

@women doctors: "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman," Elliot Reid/Sarah Chalke in "Scrubs," Emily Dechannel in "Bones"