The Good Doctor(2017-) is the story of Shaun Murphy, a young autistic surgeon with savant syndrome, his triumphs and defeats in the daily life of a surgeon. The American medical drama is based on a South Korean series with the same name, made in 2013. I came to know about this series when a real-life doctor-cum-youtuber Dr. Mike reacted to the medical scenes shown in the pilot episode.
I have watched season 1 though season 4 of the good doctor, hence this post doesn’t contain any subplot from the later seasons. For this series, I would like to talk about some of the highlights from the four seasons and my thoughts on the main characters.
Shaun’s Troubled Past
We come to know about Shaun’s traumatizing childhood memories in bits and pieces throughout multiple seasons. Shaun’s parents were clueless about how to take care of an autistic child- Shaun’s father was simple guy, he couldn’t make sense of Shaun’s inability to mix with other kids. In frustration and anger, he threw away his pet bunny and rebuked the boy. Little Shaun couldn’t bear the pain of his pet’s death and fled away with his with older brother.
The two young boys lived in an old school bus and one day while playing with other kids Shaun’s brother died in an accident. Shaun was finally discovered by his parents but he denied to go back home. Dr. Glassman met young Shaun and decided to raise him like his own son.
Relationship with Dr. Glassman
In the world full of chaos, Dr. Glassman was the one truly understood Shaun- both medically and emotionally… Even though autistic, having Savant syndrome helped Shaun to do much better as a surgeon. Dr. Glassman had great confidence in Shaun’s capabilities and help other doctors to look beyond the prejudices as well.
Shaun’s relationship with Glassman was definitely really interesting to watch. Most of the time, Shaun would turn to him for formal and informal advice and help- when Glassman was sick with terminal cancer, Shaun made sure to get him the best treatment possible.
Although clueless about social interactions most of the time, Shaun was the one to find him a girlfriend! (Glassman’s wife and only daughter died long back and he was all alone).
Shaun in Love
To be honest I can’t tell for sure how difficult it would be for an autistic person to navigate in the world of love and relationship. Shaun’s first love was his neighbor, Lea. Lea became Shaun’s very good friend and roommate. Lea could get to him in the ways nobody else could. Lea continued dating other guys even though she had a soft corner for him- as she was unsure about dating an autistic person.
Shaun’s first girlfriend, however, was another doctor in his hospital, named Dr. Carly. Having an autistic sister, made Carly more receptive towards Shaun than many others. They achieved many relationship milestones together- however the relationship was bound to end as Shaun was only infatuated with her.
After some detours, Shaun and Lea started dating each other. They constantly challenged each other in many different ways… however couldn’t stay apart for long. Personally I find this more dramatic and unrealistic.
Shaun’s Dynamic with fellow residents
Shaun wasn’t readily accepted by his fellow residents and senior doctors. He had to prove his capabilities more than the normal practitioners to make a place for himself. Eventually, Claire became a very good to him. Shawn was helping them to expand their imaginations and they were helping Shaun with his challenges in having social interactions.
Sceptical as first, the senior doctors too, started taking Shaun seriously.
For the dramatic impact, Shaun is shown with almost inhuman capabilities for a surgeon and the other experienced surgeons were often undermined to showcase Shaun as a hero – a real life doctor’s comment on the series definitely made sense to me.
Shaun’s personal and professional growth
In the later seasons Shaun’s mentors pushed him further to grow as a “good doctor”. In personal life, Shaun had to learn to make room for his partner, be attentive to her needs. In professional life he had to own his shortcomings, misdiagnosis… which was not possible for season 1 Shaun.
Some side plots
With new medical cases on every episode the side plots made the show all more interesting to watch.
Claire: Claire, a woman of color, a very talented resident- grew up with a single parent- an alcoholic mother. She didn’t let her difficult past to limit her future as a doctor. Claire was extremely talented and hard-working, empathy was her strongest suit.
Dr. Lim, Dr. Melendez, Dr. Marcus: The senior doctors were always in power struggle. Treating patients isn’t the only thing that the doctors have to do… They also need to go through ethical dilemmas, legal issues, cover ups, handling romance at work, tackling mental health and what not. Even though highly competitive at most of the times, they agreed to put aside their differences for patients interest from time to time.
Lim’s PTSD plot after covid was definitely a valuable addition to the plot.
Dr. Melendez, the handsome and arrogant senior doctor-who was invincible at his job- was still struggling to find love. Amongst all his love interests, his unsaid love for Claire was the one that melted my heart. Melendez was hesitant to share his feelings to his junior as this could hamper their professional life, however he supported her in every difficult situation and trusted her abilities as a medical practitioner even more than himself at times. Melendez’s death was a shock to me for sure, was shipping this couple so hard!
Dr. Alex and Dr. Morgan: Alex was an army veteran, who was in residency along with Shaun. He was separated with his wife and had a teenager son. Dr. Morgan was an over-achiever and highly competitive resident at first. Through the seasons, they both grew up to be invaluable part of the story.
I really loved the format of the show, you can pick any random episode and watch… each episode has their own short story- a unique medical problem to solve. I liked the first 3 seasons more… All in all I would rate the series 3.5/5.
Season 6 of The Good Doctor is coming soon, on Oct 3rd, 2022 on TV.