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 Lost...it'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?