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Always one to watch and critique medical dramas, I sat down with a beer to watch the newest entry to the genre. “The Resident” is the Fox network’s answer to other edgy shows that promote liberal agendas.
Much like those other edgy shows, this one also bears little resemblance to reality. Rather than overly romanticizing medicine or treating doctors like gods, this show delights in bringing physicians to their (im)moral knees. Doctors are at once shown to be rebel anti-heroes or establishment goons who get off on swimming in dollar bills the way Scrooge McDuck swims in his golden pool of coins.
The episode begins with two C-level doctors taking their lobbyist and Congressman out quail hunting. Reminiscent of a Dick Cheney moment, the Congressman accidentally sprays shot into the backside of the lobbyist. While everyone rushes over to him, the Congressman grabs his chest and keels over. Thankfully, there is not one, but two(!) excellent physicians/surgeons present to begin CPR. The entire party presents via ambulance to the main stage of our tragedy.
Meanwhile, The Resident himself is giving a talk to an apparent high-school science class, taught by his long-term patient: an idealistic, young, handsome, suspiciously well do-gooder black teacher. While giving the lecture, the teacher suddenly begins gasping for air. The Resident creates a makeshift stethoscope out of tubing, a funnel, and nitrile gloves (the second most realistic moment in this show) and listens to his patient’s lung sounds and heart. He examines him. It’s flash pulmonary edema! He commands the class to call 911. They do and as medics arrive, he administers a precordial thump, and tells the medics that the patient is now perfusing, but was in V-fib. He runs alongside them to arrive at the hospital.
The Congressman’s party and the teacher’s party arrive via ambulance to Chastain Park Hospital at the same time. The shooting victim is taken to have the pellets removed from his gluteus maximus while the Congressman is rushed to a treatment bed. The C-level doctors begin discussing what a PR nightmare this is and how the only way to fix it is to ensure a good outcome (which is exactly what mustache-twirling Old White Men do).
As the episode progresses, we find that The Resident is named Conrad Hawkins, an ex-military (we know because he still wears his dog tags) idealist who isn’t afraid to break the rules to ensure a good outcome for his patients. He is teaching the overwhelmed newbie Indian-American intern, Dr. Pravesh, who works with another doctor who is barely seen or discussed. Together with a nurse only referred to as Nic, we meet some of the other patients on the floors.
Of course, our Sainted Teacher needs a heart transplant. His heart is failing quickly and this will be the fourth attempt. A heart is found through UNOS and allocated to the selfless, faithful (and we know because his church groups comes to pray with him), young man in need. Meanwhile, the Congressman’s heart has failed as well. Evil Old White Man Doctor, sometimes called Dr. Randolph Bell, determines that the heart should be reallocated to the Congressman. That way, they will save his life not once, but twice! The Resident, not able to stand for this sort of corruption, insists that the doctor do the right thing and give the heart back to his Selfless Teacher who has been waiting for years. Corrupt Old White Man Doctor, only thinking of his own reputation, says no and mocks Conrad to boot.
Meanwhile, nurse “Nic” is taking care of a cancer patient. Pandering Female Doctor from the Hunting Mishap is the doctor on the case and clears the very attractive young lady to be discharged to home, so long as she returns to her outpatient cancer clinic. Nic asks the doctor if she saw the recent labs, and Big Britches Lady Oncologist Doctor says that she did, but she ordered later labs that were fine. The patient is at no risk and will have a smaller chance of infection if she goes home. Nic sullenly takes the doctor’s order, but goes into the computer to read the Attractive Cancer Patient’s records. Upon discovering nothing, she asks The Resident if he knows something. Oh yes, everyone knows: Fancypants Oncologist (aka Dr. Lane Hunter) keeps all of her own records and the hospital has no rights to them. After all, she’s a Big Stinking Deal and has many protocols and experimental products that she’s working on. To have the records open to everyone, she risks losing her patents or her products. All her patients go to her special private clinic which only she benefits from. Cue outrage.
Luckily, The Resident has come up with a solution to his problem. There is a Hispanic girl lingering on life support. She is certifiably brain dead and has been for at least a few hours since a drunk driver hit her car. No one has approached the family about organ donation. This is where we meet Brilliant Robotic Nigerian Immigrant Doctor. Unfeeling Beautiful Nigerian Female Doctor says that she is willing to take on the job, however it is swiftly nixed by everyone, since she has the worst bedside manners and anyone from the transplant team would be seen to have a conflict of interests. The mother is consulted and no, she will not donate, she still has hope for her “vegetable” daughter (we know she’s a vegetable because all of the doctors talk about the lack of hope at great length and even use the word “vegetable”).
Meanwhile, The Resident goes to the lab to check in on the Congressman’s labs. He inquires about them and about Randomly Useful Patient X to the attractive lab technician. He smiles at her, coos, comments on her beautiful new earrings (they are cats), massages her earlobes and flirts with her. She instantly gets him those blood samples that he needs stat. After doctoring the labels so the Congressman is no longer a match for the heart, he returns them to the Gullible Lab Tech, who questions nothing and takes them back. When Greedy Old White Doctor sees the labs, he is irate. Knowing they have been relabeled, he angrily confronts The Resident about it. Smarmy and smug, The Resident notifies him that there’s another perfectly good heart … in a Hispanic teenager: if he is willing to convince the mother.
Grudgingly, Corrupt White Executive Surgeon sits down with the family and discusses the option of giving life. They miraculously agree!
Happily for everyone, the manipulations and blackmails have worked to the advantage of the doctors and the hospital. You get a heart! You get a heart! Everyone gets what they need!
…but wait, we’re not done yet.
Perfect Heartless Nigerian Surgeon meets up with Corrupt White Surgeon to discuss her doing his surgery. Why, the audience wonders, would he let a lesser surgeon do the Congressman’s surgery? Ah, but we find out that it is because his hands are shaking. He either has a drug problem or early onset Parkinson’s. Rather than notify appropriate people, Old Corrupt Parkinson’s Surgeon continues practicing, instead placing lives in danger. Robotic Unfeeling Beautiful Nigerian Surgeon riles at his request: she will not cover for him yet again, particularly after he elected not to help her with her H1 visa. But after some expert manipulation by The Resident, she agrees.
The Selfless Teacher gets his heart and lives. The Congressman gets his heart and lives. The Lobbyist with shot pellets in his rear is in pain, but lives.
And The Resident holds hands with Nic.
And they all lived politically correctly thereafter.
The only correct thing in this episode is from a moment where two of the doctors are removing pellets from the lobbyist having a brief conversation about the nurse only known as “Nic”:
Dr. Pravesh: “She’s so good … she should be a doctor.”
Other Doctor: “Yeah, but she’s smart. She has no interest. She likes to actually spend time with the patients.”
Dr. Pravesh: “Bbbbut … she could be a doctor!”
Other Doctor: “Actually, she’s working on that.”
Dr. Pravesh: “See!”
Other Doctor: “In Nursing. Doctor of Nursing Practice.”
This show makes you actively more stupid for having watched it. It is worse than a propaganda film because at least those were somewhat believable. This is so heavy-handed that it is nearly and unintentionally funny.
Please join me in avoiding this show at all costs. Even if Emily Van Camp is in it.
The tagline for the show, “Can one doctor save a broken system?” seems to make the struggle seem worthwhile. The real question is, “Can familiar faces save a patronizingly low-quality TV show?” The answer?