I have a hard time watching medical dramas on TV. That may not surprise you, but the reason might. It’s not because I think they’re all poorly written, or derivative of each other. That’s all true, but plenty of shows and genres are the same way. I don’t mind detective shows even though they are all the same every episode. I don’t mind crime investigation shows, even though its true there too. And I don’t mind the silly family issues comedy shows with the laugh track, even though, well, you get the point.
It’s also not that the characters are flat, that they hardly ever change or they change too dramatically to be believable. When it comes to US TV, with the exception of the prestige shows, that’s the case across the board. US dramas are really just one step above soap operas, or at least, those that are on network TV are. There’s HBO, Showtime, AMC, and others for serious drama with realistic characters. Yet, I find myself watching the easy, ridiculous, poorly drawn characters on networks more than I do the well-drawn ones elsewhere. The truth is, I like bad TV. I work hard, and I want vegetable-inducing entertainment when I get home. I get my culture elsewhere.
Just to lay out a few more issues, I also don’t mind that the acting isn’t great (too hyped up usually, with soap opera reactions and long stares before commercial break). And I don’t mind that the sets are so-so. I’m okay with the fact most episodes are repetitive, except for around sweeps.
I don’t care about any of that. It’s all true, but I don’t care. It’s cheesy, it’s crap, but I love it in other genres.
No, the problem is the medicine. I grew up in a family of doctors, and I married a doctor. And though I’m not one myself, I just can’t stand how bad the medicine is. Most of these shows hardly even try anymore. House was ridiculous, and the medicine was crazy, but they did make an effort to get in the ballpark. Scrubs did much better, but that’s long gone now. What we have left is just so far from reality, I can’t watch it. I find myself critiquing the decisions and assumptions of the doctors. I’m backseat medical advising. It’s the opposite of relaxing and turning my brain off.
I also find myself looking for medical malpractice issues. I worked in that area for a while, and I’m hyper-aware of the problems. I see malpractice suits almost every episode. Seriously, look at this list that highlights major areas for lawsuits, then watch a medical drama. Tell me all those folks aren’t already sued into the poor house and left without a medical license.
The funny thing is, my husband doesn’t mind any of this. He loves those shows. And he’s a doctor. I’m not sure if that makes me too sensitive to these issues, or if I should start worrying about his competency to practice medicine.