The Good Doctor is a Show with More Heart than Most on TV Right Now
When I volunteered to become a TV reviewer I had two goals in mind. First to call attention to some of the great things going on Netflix, and to call attention to some of the great shows that network TV still produces. I think I have done a good job so far of elevating the good (PBS’s Victoria, Jessica Jones, The Great British Mystery Shows list) and steering people away from the bad (Slasher season 2), and I was waiting until next week’s season finale to write about how I feel about ABC’s hit The Good Doctor. However, I realized I don’t need to see how the last episode plays out to have a final decision on what I think of the show, I love it, I’ve been rooting for it since the very first episode, and if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out.
The President of San Jose Bonaventure Hospital, Arron Glassman (Richard Schiff), petitions to the board of his hospital that his protégée and ward, Sean Murphy, who he has been taking care of since the death of Sean’s brother and his removal from his abusive father’s home. He meets resistance when he reveals that Sean is an Autistic Savant. Staking his career on Sean’s success, Chief of Surgery Marcus Andrews accepts Sean as a resident and sticks him with Cardiothoracic Surgeon Neil Melendez. Sean must prove his worth to the hospital while forging new relationships with his fellow residents; Claire Brown (Antonia Thomas), a kind hearted woman who ends up understanding Sean the most, and Jared Kalu (Chuku Modu), a wealthy British resident who develops a friendship with Sean. Can Sean prove he has what it takes to be a surgeon in a world that doesn’t understand him.
I think what I like best about this show, is that it makes sure that everyone, no matter what their role, is a good person. Even people who are the biggest obstacles to Sean’s success have very human moments. Dr. Andrews in a lot of episodes comes off as a huge ass, but they also show he holds no ill will towards Sean, and actually recognizes his talent and likes him as a person. Kalu can be arrogant, but he means well and he’s gone out of his way on occasion to try and understand why Sean is the way he is. Antonia Thomas is the heart of the show as Claire, an optimist and an empathetic soul. All the actors pour their heart into their performances and especially Freddie Highmore as Sean Murphy is a revelation. How long must he have studied the movements and cadence of Autistic people to get it that right.
That is another thing this show is good at, showing people what people on the Spectrum go through in their lives. As a person who is fortunately on the more high functioning portion of that spectrum, I found a lot of the things Sean went through to be really authentic. Having trouble starting and maintaining day-to-day relationships (interpersonal as well as romantic), saying the wrong thing because you can’t read the room, being thrown off by anything that messes with your very regimented life, people thinking you can’t do things right because you are what you are, getting taken advantage of because of all those things, it’s all there. If they had added crippling Clinical Depression and a scene where someone talks to him like a normal person and then finds out and starts speaking to him like a child it would be a little too close for comfort.
If you have Hulu, check out this season. I can’t wait to see how everyone grows in season 2.