This article previously appeared on Crossfader
In this Crossfader series, our intricate and complex rating system will tell you definitively whether new television pilots are worth your valuable time. We call it: HIT OR SH**.
The medical drama genre is, without a doubt, the Maleficent of the television medium—just when you think it’s reared its 56th and final season, a new one comes back in the shape of a giant purple dragon, or in this case, FOX’s new show THE RESIDENT. The statistic of hospital error being the third highest cause of death in the U.S. is not only the likely conception for the show, but also the best way to summarize it succinctly. Whereas in shows like GREY’S ANATOMY or the ‘90s classic ER, we get some semblance of humanity through sex, failures, sex, heartache, sex, etc., THE RESIDENT, much like its protagonist, plays by no one’s rules but their own, as young doctors play God and test fate, all with ill-timed premade keyboard beats in the background.
Actual footage of THE RESIDENT composer
THE RESIDENT starts off when an appendectomy goes awry, tilted camera angles, questionably heavy breathing from extras, and dim green lighting all aiding the “drama.” The chief of surgery covers up his mistake and alludes to the fact that he is not the only doctor in this hospital who has “made a mistake.” Cue the “lightning and thunder through a huge window shot.” The entire dossier of cliche characters are announced: Conrad (Matt Czurchy) as the boring white protagonist with a God complex, Devon (Manish Dayal) as the young ingenue who just wants to do good, Nic (Emily Van Camp) as the hardened, “tell it like it is” type nurse with a typical man’s name, and oh so very many more before the show’s 25-minute mark.
As for arcs of those characters, it seems that the show plays on the idea that to be good at your job is to have character development, and that as long as there is an unspoken comradery, coupled with abrupt pacing, audience intrigue with follow. The tone of the show fosters a similar tone to THANK YOU FOR SMOKING, but the difference between playing hardball in the big tobacco industry and saving the lives of innocents seems entirely obvious. What little stakes are present are revealed in ways such as the chief of surgery, equipped with shaky hands and the death of many patients, once again mitigating the talented black female surgeon, Dr. Mina Okafor (Shaunette Renee Wilson), and frankly the only interesting character, by not giving her the recognition she deserves.
Me listening to the characters reveal their “tragic backstories” in under two minutes
The fact of the matter, the honest to goodness tea, is that these characters are not just poorly written, but have no sense of arc, no relatability, and are mostly just empty vessels who rest on the laurels of characters before them, which makes their situation flat and albeit laughable.
The thing with the medical drama genre is that it’s never really going to top GENERAL HOSPITAL. Although shows like PRIVATE PRACTICE and GREY’S ANATOMY try to separate themselves, they always fall into the same scheme of trysts, revenge, and eventual main character death. THE RESIDENT tries to differentiate itself from its predecessors by declaring itself the “Bad Boy” of the genre, the realists even, but have nothing to show for it. However, let the record show that watching Emily Van Camp flit in Zac Posen outfits and gab with socialites in the Hamptons, all while plotting their demise, is a show aching to be viewed.
God, we all miss the old you, Emily
Unfortunately, the second our antihero, on a literal bicycle with Big Sean’s “Bounce Back” queasily blaring, was introduced, THE RESIDENT decided its fate. Not to mention that his crimes extend to an olden, cursive “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR” tattoo that looks like it was applied with adhesive and a dishrag from shoulder to shoulder and saying interesting little microaggressions like “namaste” and homophobic jokes simply for shock value. Medical dramas are tricky genre fare: they must contain intrigue, good pace, and very adaptable characters and narrative arcs. THE RESIDENT regrettably only has a shallow critique of medical corruption, a tone that makes the narrative feel fabricated, and a protagonist that rivals Johnny Knoxville’s character in THE RINGER.
. . . just
THE RESIDENT airs on Mondays on FOX