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The villain treatment

Matt Czuchry (David Johnson/FOX)


The villain treatment

In The Resident, the bad guy is the healthcare system itself

If you’re planning to undergo surgery in the next few months, do yourself a favor and stay away from The Resident, Fox’s new midseason drama.

A botched surgery opens the series, involving doctor selfies, blackmail, and a cover-clad shoe sludging through a puddle of blood. “Medicine isn’t practiced by saints. It’s a business,” says one jaded nurse to a brand-new intern. OK, Fox, we get it. Insurance: bad. Veteran doctors: bad. Fresh doctors: good—or at least, mostly good.

Matt Czuchry of The Good Wife and Gilmore Girls leads the cast in the same rule-breaker role he pretty much always plays—this time as tattooed former Navy corpsman and surgical resident Conrad Hawkins. Surrounding him are all the usual, one-dimensional suspects for a medical drama: the wide-eyed intern, villainous chief of surgery, and Conrad’s love interest—a blond nurse, of course.

It’s hard to believe this is the same network that brought us the unforgettable Dr. Gregory House (though they try hard to remind us, as when Conrad diagnoses a patient with lupus after hearing only his symptoms). Unlike House, where the villain in each medical case was usually a tiny unnoticed symptom, The Resident’s antagonist is the healthcare system itself. We’d like to think that any patient could walk into any hospital and receive the same level of care in all of them. Not so, says this show. Healthcare quality depends on money, power, and politics.

Conrad and comrades diagnose and treat complex cases but must also navigate around big egos, the politics of UNOS, and even a billing consultant who stops and starts expensive tests depending on patients’ insurance status. The medical accuracy on the show—or lack thereof—has sparked outrage on Twitter.

The Resident is nowhere near as soapy as Grey’s Anatomy, but characters joke euphemistically about sex and sleep together. For a better cast and more compelling characters, check out ABC’s The Good Doctor—or even some vintage E.R., recently made available on Hulu.