Doctor Drama: The 10 best medical TV shows
The daily dramas of doctors, nurses and patients are a genre of television we just can’t seem to get enough of. Television depictions of medicine aren’t exactly like visiting a real hospital – the doctors all have part-time jobs as underwear models and an awful lot of spare time for personal dramas, but it’s a way to get insight on a world so far removed from any of our own. Unless you’re in the medical field, of course, in which case they’re vaguely hilarious and only occasionally relatable.
To celebrate the start of new American drama The Night Shift on Sony Channel in the UK, and the return of new favourite Code Black tomorrow on Watch, here is a list of our favourite medical television shows.
1. Grey’s Anatomy
The ShondaLand staple Grey’s Anatomy is an engaging hit filled with fast-paced drama and the intricate personal lives of the surgeons at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital. While recent storylines have got a tad ridiculous, there’s no denying the longevity of a format that’s been running for an incredible 12 seasons to date. Also, suspend your disbelief at the fact that surgeons are multi-tasking mega-gods in this series, and other doctors don’t exist.
The longest-running primetime medical drama in American television history and the winner of 23 Primetime Emmy awards for a reason. ER explored the inner workings of an city teaching hospital in Chicago, with a heavy focus on the issues faced by doctors in its emergency room. ER portrayed riveting storylines with more realism than most in the genre.
Scrubs proved that the dramatic lives of medical workers could be made hilariously funny, spanning nine seasons during the noughties and winning two Emmys. The series followed medical interns J.D., Turk and Elliott at the fictional Sacred Heart hospital as they navigated their new careers and work-life balance.
4. The Knick
The Knick is a newer and unique take on the medical drama, set in the early twentieth century before many of the medical advances we now take for granted. The show explores the workings of the surgeons, whose innovative techniques are at the cutting edge of medical research for the time, as they battle with the constraints of the period both personally and professionally.
The show that turned a British household name into an American household name, Hugh Laurie starred in this widely-acclaimed series about unconventional diagnostician Doctor Gregory House. Despite his medical knowledge and observation skills bordering on genius, House often found himself at odds with those around him due to his unconventional methods and regular flouting of hospital regulations. It all made excellent television, however.
Before Ryan Murphy was disappointing us with Glee and latter series of American Horror Story, he was creating riveting storylines on plastic surgery hit Nip/Tuck before – guess what – disappointing us with their conclusions. Nevertheless, the controversial storylines were incredibly addictive, and we found ourselves fully immersed in the gruesome worlds of Sean McNamara and Christian Troy.
7. Code Black
For those not in the know, “code black” is a term for a medical state of emergency (usually overcrowding) used in the US. It might happen to the average hospital a few times a year. In this absolutely chaotic, action-packed series however, one can guarantee “code black” once an episode. A new addition to the landscape of medical drama, Code Black has engrossed from the start with interesting characters and an incredibly busy ER.
8. Nurse Jackie
Emergency room nurse Jackie Peyton is the nurse you simultaneously never want to see and desperately want to see. A talented and compassionate nurse, her only pitfall is a dangerous drug addiction. Nurse Jackie is a smart, stylish series that won five Primetime Emmy awards.
Sky unveiled a new take on the hospital drama last year, with the release of Critical – a medical show set in real-time. Each episode features one traumatic incident, and the seconds go by as agonisingly as they would in real life. It’s a remarkable triumph as a show, but may leave viewers severely lacking in fingernails after a marathon session.
10. The Night Shift
A fantastic new debut for 2016 in the UK, The Night Shift revolves around the lives of the doctors that attend to the night shift at a hospital in San Antonio. This includes the personalities and romantic entanglements of the unconventional TC and the desperate-to-impress Jordan.