To All the Medical Dramas I've Loved Before

Monday, November 25, 2019


Everyone's got a guilty pleasure... or two... or 10... & one of mine (aside from my deep & abiding love of The Bachelor & all related podcasts) is medical dramas.

I don't know why I love them so much; I'm not a big fan of blood or bones or bodily functions... but I do love over-the-top drama, & medical shows seem to have a lot of that. There's an endless opportunity for story lines because you can literally do anything with these fictional patients: Kid trapped in cement. Two people skewered together on a pole. A massive ferry boat crash. A helicopter that cuts off a doctor's arm.

Voilà! So much drama for ever & ever - & that's not even counting the character drama among the doctors.

My all-time favorite, Grey's Anatomy, has been, shall we say, less than impressive this season, but luckily, I have lots of other beloved shows to turn to. Here are the medical shows I've watched & loved - some of them on repeat, for years.

Grey's Anatomy
Yes, fine, we'll still start here. I'm one of the few who's been watching Shonda Rimes's first-ever show since it first aired back in 2005 - the year I transferred colleges & moved back in with my mom. We watched it together then, & we've watched it "together" ever since, even when I lived far away, texting throughout each episode.

I've seen all 16 seasons of this one, too, not just as they aired but during two full-series re-watches. I'll be here watching until the day doors close on Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, no matter who's still on it or how unbelievable (or, in recent weeks, boring) the plot becomes. (Watch it on Netflix.)

E.R.
The big mama of medical dramas, the matriarch, the crème de la crème - I'd waited decades to be able to watch this show, & when it became available on Hulu, I dropped everything to watch it. All 15 seasons of it. Honestly, I'm already thinking about watching it again - yes, all 15 seasons of it - because that show is unlike any other, ever, period. That scene when Knight & Carter get stabbed? Or when Carol & Doug return? Or when Pratt dies? (Spoiler, sorry.) It is, in my opinion, truly one of the best TV shows of all time. (Watch it on Hulu.)

Chicago Med
I haaaaate that NBC makes it impossible to catch up on its crossover shows, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD. I'd watch them all if they'd let me, but only current seasons are available online, so I stick with Chicago Med only, which I've watched since it first aired. And I love it. It's the one I look for first when I turn on Hulu in the mornings (because I have no idea when it actually airs).

It's got some seriously over-the-top drama, which is to be expected from Law & Order creator Dick Wolf - & even though I occasionally get confused by crossover storylines from the other shows (which, again, I would be happy to watch if you'd let me, NBC), it's frankly not that hard to follow along on a show created by Dick Wolf. (Watch the current season on Hulu.)

The Resident
I hated this one the first time I tried to watch it, mostly because the first scene of the series makes it seem very sleek & chic, full of disreputable, slimy asshole doctors - & that's not really my jam. I'm glad I gave it another chance because how wrong I was!

I mean, OK, sure, there are plenty of disreputable, slimy asshole doctors in it, but they're not the focus - & in fact, this show is very much about the good in us all, especially when things aren't as black & white as "good person" versus "bad person." Matt Cuzchry shines, of course, but I love that the show has branched out to truly feature the rest of its cast, too - including Theo Huxtable!!! (Watch it on Hulu.)

The Good Doctor
I started watching this one when I was desperate for more medical dramas in my life - which means I probably started watching it as soon as I finished watching E.R., as it left behind some serious holes!

Freddie Highmore stars as Dr. Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with autism and Savant syndrome, who starts as a surgical intern at a prestigious hospital - to the dismay of some of the hospital's staff, who don't believe he's right for the job. Thus far, it's more character-driven than super-dramatic-medical-incidents-driven, which I don't mind - but it's getting there. (Watch it on Hulu.)

New Amsterdam
The newest of the bunch, this show is still in its first season, & I'm really enjoying it so far. Inspired by stories of the real-life Bellevue Hospital, the premise is that an idealistic new hospital director, Dr. Max Goodwin, has been brought in to lead the country's oldest public hospital, New Amsterdam, & is turning it on its head.

Max is such a fascinatingly compassionate character - but he's also still dealing with a serious cancer, some major major changes, & you know, being in charge of a whole damn hospital with a lot going on. I love him, the show, & everyone else on it. (Watch it on Hulu.)

Private Practice
It's crazy to think that Grey's Anatomy has spun off two separate shows - one of which had a successful six-season run of its own that ended a whopping six years ago. It took me a long time to watch this one because Addison Montgomery was never one of my favorite Grey's characters.

That changed when I made it through this show, which is a freaking gem (& not only because it also stars the beautiful Taye Diggs). Private Practice, while dramatic, had a much more realistic feel to it than Grey's has ever had, with beautiful, moving character relationships. (Watch it on Hulu.)

House M.D.
Tbh I liked this show just fine, but bingeing it just didn't seem to do much for me. It's one of those shows where the answer is always the same - some version of a miracle diagnosis that comes from the depths of Dr. Gregory House's angry-genius brain.

 I think I would've liked House better had I watched it when it was airing live, but it never felt compelling enough for me to stick with. Of all the shows on this list, this is the only one I haven't yet finished, but I always figure I'll get to it eventually. (Watch it on Amazon Prime.)

OK, so tell me: What other medical dramas do I need to watch? Gimme more!

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