COVID-19’s realistic portrayal in medical dramas

Jane Kuhnlein '23, Page Editor

After months of cliffhangers from TV show season finales, certain series have finally gotten to film and premiere their newest season. TV series in the medical genre seem to have taken a similar approach involving COVID-19.

Shows like Grey’s Anatomy and the Good Doctor have taken the coronavirus and brought it into their scripts. The Good Doctor started their season off with doctors in February misdiagnosing a woman with COVID-19. The doctor asked questions about the woman’s symptoms which included a sore throat, body aches, and a terrible cough. She got sent home thinking that she had the flu, but two weeks later was back in the hospital in critical condition.

Grey’s Anatomy took a different approach while still making COVID-19 a large factor in their current season. The season 16 finale left many holes in the plot that the audience has yet to know of. Grey’s Anatomy’s format for this season is a type of flashback to fill in the plot. There are parts before the pandemic and during. In the first episode, one of the members of staff orders personal protective equipment (PPE), which was very hard to get at that point and resembled the real time COVID-19 situation in the beginning of the pandemic. The only issue was that the PPE company only sent them booties, which are covers for doctors’ feet. This false sense of hope made the doctors in the hospital more on edge.

Both the Good Doctor and Grey’s Anatomy are showing the side of a frontline worker in the COVID-19 pandemic which most of the world doesn’t see. Being in the hospital and watching people become increasingly ill without truly helping them is shown in the actors’ frustration and exhaustion. In both of the series, the doctors aren’t allowed to live with their families in fear of getting them sick. The shows give the audience a perspective they have yet to see, which in return may attract more viewers.

However, some people don’t want another reminder of how bad this pandemic is. Some may want to have a break and escape watching a TV show. The creators of both Grey’s Anatomy and the Good Doctor are taking a risk surrounding their shows with the pandemic. With a series like Grey’s Anatomy, one that has a lot of seasons and an increasing fanbase, risks might not be the best idea. The show has already done quite a few risky plot points that have lost viewers. Meanwhile, The Good Doctor is only on its fourth season, but taking a risk with their plot still fits with the series. Grey’s Anatomy is a medical drama, as well as The Good Doctor, but the plot is not anywhere near as extreme.

Medical series like these, are doing similar things, which makes sense because of the protocol hospitals have taken when it comes to the coronavirus. It’s important to show this side of the pandemic, even though the shows aren’t real. The storylines of both shows are proving how unpredictable this virus can be and how little was known about it back in the earlier months of 2020. It is still not known how these shows are going to progress with the pandemic. They could stay true to what’s been happening in the real world, or take it in a different direction. Either way, I think that both of the series have been doing a great job so far in portraying COVID-19.