Medical dramas are old, but not old enough, according to Fox’s newest addition to its 2017–2018 lineup. Premiered on Jan. 21, The Resident is yet another hospital drama at first glance — pretty people, white coats, moral duty, on-the-job relationships, charlatan doctors aka the perfect recipe to follow in the footsteps of Grey’s Anatomy. But, let’s face it …you’re probably still not over Mc Dreamy’s death, so why would you make room for yet another medical drama?
The Resident follows Dr. Conrad Hawkins (Matt Czuchry), Senior Resident at Chastain Park Memorial Hospital, and his new first-year resident, Dr. Devon Pradesh (Manish Dayal). Conrad is the unconventional doctor — it’s in the recipe, every medical drama needs one these days — who takes it upon himself to “break” first-year residents. Enter Devon, fresh Harvard Medical School graduate, who romanticizes the idea of being a doctor; he is used to doing everything by the books and is very impressionable. Conrad sets out to “break” Devon, repeatedly making fun of his tie and Harvard degree, but they’re probably going to end up being buddies.
The real nemesis is Dr. Bell (Bruce Greenwood), Chief of Surgery, poster boy for ultimate success and a scary bully who leaves 5-star reviews of himself online (talk about taking your Online Reputation Management into your own hands). Bell does some questionable things that he seems to get away with, despite Conrad calling him out on his corruption. And this is, perhaps, the reason The Resident deserves a slot on your small screen.
Before you get excited, The Resident is not House M.D. The medical show veers from the norm by showing a different side of hospitals; it’s very blunt about showing what hospitals do for money. Nurse Nic, Emily VanCamp from Revenge, even tells Devon that medicine is a business. However, she also reminds him that there are good doctors and nurses who are here to do the right thing. Conrad is one of them, despite being a douchenugget.
Conrad is not politically correct, no, he dances on the line between arrogance and compassion. The juxtaposition of his assholeness toward his peers (mainly Devon) and his compassion toward his patients is brilliant. However, the overconfidence à la Tom Cruise in Top Gun is not what will keep you coming back to the show. Come back for characters like Dr. Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renée Wilson), whose no-bullshit attitude and genius-level surgical skills come as a fresh breath of air in this medical drama. But despite her surgical prowess, even Mina is not exempt to the claws of the hospital business. In one scene, Dr. Bell blackmails her so she performs a surgery for which he steals the credit. Later in the season, they bench her because of her overconfidence.
In short, The Resident stays on the safe side, while exploring some dark elements of the medical world. I see it more as a good doctor vs. bad doctor scenario. Melina Kanakaredes shows up in the second episode to back up Greenwood’s team, filling up the greedy doctor quota.
At times, the show will present a scenario that will toy with your moral compass. In episode three, the hospital has to decide whether to save a life and eat the cost of the patient’s two-million-dollar surgery. Naturally, the gdt (good doctor team) votes to eat the cost and perform the surgery, while the bdt (bad doctor team) chooses to let the patient die. From a business perspective, you understand the bdt — we can’t save everyone, but, from a humane perspective, we’re definitely on the gdt’s side — we should at least try.
The Resident loosely follows the trope that good always wins, in that our gdt almost always comes out on top. However, don’t mistake this for a lack of realism; patients still die, sometimes naturally and sometimes because of medical error. We are also frustrated because the bdt tends to use their power to bully everyone into doing their bidding. In the end, the show has a right balance of good vs. bad.
The glory of the show lies not in innovation, but in the super-talented cast who work together like pieces of a puzzle. It is doubtful that The Resident will outperform The Good Doctor on ABC, but let’s hope Fox doesn’t axe it after its first season.
Q U I C K • C E N T S
- Mina Okafor is perhaps one of the most brilliant characters on TV right now.
- Conrad/Mina dynamics make the show.
- Devon's occasional challenge of Conrad is rather refreshing
- VanCamp's character feels diluted.
- Dayal needs to grow into his character. Right now, Devon translates as a supporting act.
- The show does not do enough to stand out.