New to Television: The Good Doctor

Photo Credit to ABC

Photo Credit to ABC

Kaelin Rowell, Junior Editor

The Good Doctor, a new ABC medical drama,  has taken 2017 fall TV by storm. Surprisingly, it is the most watched show on television, trumping major ABC hits such as Grey’s Anatomy, which has premiered for its fourteenth season in 2017. ABC has undoubtedly struggled with launching new shows- relying far too heavily on Modern Family, Grey’s Anatomy, and Scandal. The Good Doctor blew everyone away. The popular question is: how?

In my opinion, the success of The Good Doctor is due to the fact that is the first simple, well executed medical series that the TV screen has seen in a while. The show is not focused on what will bring in the most viewer material, but instead focuses on how doctors can learn from simple medical situations, even struggling through personal obstacles. Each episode, the characters are faced with an ethical dilemma. It is also unique because we are able to see a television show that shows the struggles of an adult with autism in a hostile work environment.

The show brings heightened attention to the autism spectrum. Some criticism highlights the fact that Highmore’s character is also a genius, perhaps inaccurately portraying what it can be like to live with autism for people who are on different parts of the spectrum. However, the character’s endurance provides a sense of encouragement for others.

The show, in many people’s opinions, gets autism right. For example, Murphy speaks in a monotone voice and says exactly what he’s thinking with zero filter.He avoids direct eye contact, shows little emotion and struggles to deal with people on a personal level. This can be seen when Shaun’s neighbor asks if she can borrow batteries, and he is later seen asking her to return them.

Although the show has seen some criticism, it shows how we can bring awareness and advocate for those who are different. Freddie Highmore, who plays Dr. Shaun Murphy, has been great at bringing such an isolated topic to light. Dr. Murphy is brilliant, having been apparently diagnosed with Savant Syndrome, but he has strict guidelines on how he feels the world is supposed to work and has strict ideas on how people should be treated. The character’s autism does make for some awkward, socially uncomfortable moments on the show, but has forced the doctors to change the way that they treat others- often for the better.

I think what is most inspiring and eye-opening about the show is that Shaun Murphy is able to do things in which other doctors, who are portrayed as “normal”, are not able to do. For example, Shaun was able to revive a liver with a drinking straw and was able to make a REBOA, a device that controls a hemorrhage amidst cardiac arrest, out of thin air.

If you are inclined to medical television shows, I highly recommend The Good Doctor. I have watched many medical dramas: Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, ER, etcetera; In my opinion, none of these shows come close to triumphing the Good Doctor.