To guide your summer getaway book selections, try this formula: E=FB²
New Amsterdam, an NBC medical drama, stars Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist) as a status-quo-busting medical director, Dr. Max Goodwin. Now in the second half of its first season, the show grew out of Eric Manheimer’s 2012 memoir of his time as director at Bellevue Hospital in New York City.
In the pilot, Goodwin gathers hospital staffers and announces, “I work for you so you can work for your patients.” That’s the show’s theme: radically changing hospital protocols to put patients first. Goodwin fires the cardiac surgical department, eliminates waiting rooms, agrees to make hospital food healthy, and refuses to place billing above patient care. By the pilot’s end, skeptical doctors are on board.
The first season portrays typical medical crises and character relationships. It emphasizes compassion, but sometimes unrealistically, as when Goodwin invites homeless people into the understaffed hospital. Ongoing subplots revolve around why the winsome and witty Goodwin is so driven, as well as how he will handle his own dire health diagnosis.
Despite engaging characters, the show has predictable (and secular) scenarios and views: The male head of psychiatry has a husband and two adopted children, and he supports surgical change for a transgender teen. Law enforcement and race issues seem one-sided. Characters rarely broach religious thoughts, but in one episode a doctor turns to another and says, “The Lord works in mysterious ways”—and the second replies, “Yes, she does.”
Positive elements include Goodwin’s overt love for his wife and unborn daughter, a hospital counselor’s desire to find a permanent home for an angry teen lost in the foster system, and staff kindness to a prisoner-patient about to give birth. Doctors routinely call unborn children babies. The script allows for development of deeper issues, so New Amsterdam could improve in its planned second season—or fall into a propagandizing pit.