It seems lately, someone daily is asking my thoughts on the new fall season series, The Good Doctor. If you don’t watch basically, season 1 is based on the 2013 South Korean series of the name; Dr. Shaun Murphy is a surgeon with autism who begins working at San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital with the support of his mentor Dr. Ira Glassman in a medical drama. Of course my prospective focuses on the autism piece of the series but it portrays so much more with opening the doors to job opportunities and growth for special needs and of course just good ole prime time drama and acting.
Episode 1: The premiere was framed by a board meeting in which the contentious politicians on the hospital’s governing body argue over whether it is OK to hire a surgeon with autism. The majority ruled and thought he would not be a good fit as a surgeon with concerns showing several characteristics including social awkwardness, lack of eye contact and the biggest concern was how most people with autism show a lack of empathy. How can Dr. Murphy be sympathetic to patients and their families? Where yes, I won’t deny you will see all these characteristics but what I don’t agree is how people instantly believe a person with autism lacks empathy. THIS is where I applaud the Director for touching on this from the start and sharing this awareness that people with autism do have empathy it’s just difficult to express those emotions. The first episode hooked me when you got to see Dr. Murphy have the opportunity to show his ability to care for others when asked, “why do you want to be a surgeon?” There was a long very uncomfortable pause and then Shaun Murphy began to share how he could not save his young brothers life during a traumatic event when he was 14 years old. He expressed because of this day, I want to save lives.
So at the end of the day, an exceptional surgeon might have difficulties expressing themselves but who do you want cutting on you? The Good Doctor or The Social Doctor?
Episode 2: Dr. Murphy’s colleague, Claire is unsure how to establish a relationship with him. She seeks advice from his mentor, Dr. Glassman and she starts understanding and has compassion for Dr. Murphy. Claire gets to know Dr. Murphy and how his mind functions and it’s a learning experience for her. With autism, new environments, noises, and people can be overwhelming, but the young doctor took everything in his stride, and we the audience got to see just how his brain works. Claire gains a lot of insight into the mind of Shaun noting how he doesn’t like the lights of the police car, how he watches the weather channel and, most importantly, how he doesn’t like to answer questions. The last probably stems mostly from his father’s abusive behavior. In one of the first flashbacks, we saw his father hitting Shaun and demanding he answer him. Claire also sees how honest Shaun is when he says it was a good day even as Oliver (the name he gives the liver), is carted away to another hospital. Luckily, Claire paused, even though she looked like she was about to kill, otherwise, she would not hear the last part: “We saved a life, even if it wasn’t Chuck.”
You often read about, taking time to get to know a child with special needs and truly listening and understanding them. I will say before Cody was born, my up bring in the schools was to not to interact with special needs in fear of how they may react to something you say. Life has thankfully evolved and the best thing you could ever do is to get to know a child that may have disabilities. Oddly enough you will learn a truer and deeper meaning of love and compassion. Can’t explain it, but I challenge you to go experience it yourself.
I volunteer weekly with New Hope Equine Therapy and this has given me opportunities to get to know children and teens with disabilities and it’s one of my favorite things I do each week. I have learned so much about myself and them working there this past year.
You can find this show on Monday nights on ABC and of course get caught up with series on ABC.