A unique perspective in a medical drama
The stellar cast (leading and supporting)
The emotional narratives that help the audience connect with the story
Conrad and Nic’s past is not revealed in any manner
Lack of backstory for some of the characters
Despite its medical shortcomings, The Resident dares to be different in an all too familiar genre
There is a cornucopia of medical dramas that currently exist on television, with new ones rushing in every season. The Resident is amongst the new shows that joined this past year and made its mark very quickly. Where it lacks in medical terminology and tends to portray exaggerated situations, it makes up for with its cast, writing, and ability to be unique in an oversaturated genre. Despite the criticism The Resident had to endure from the medical community regarding the issues they chose to highlight, the message resonates with audiences. This is a testament to its renewal by a network that slashed many of its shows for the next season. The Resident is daring, riveting, and possesses the edge-of-our-seat drama that we often crave in television. Now, whether or not the situations that the first season depicts are truly realistic remains a mystery, but the execution and creation of the storylines is one of the shining elements of The Resident.
The series is nothing without its stellar cast that make up the many pieces of The Resident puzzle. Each character brings a distinct element to the story and provides the momentum needed to push the story further. The heart and soul of the show lie with Matt Czuchry’s character, Dr. Conrad Hawkins. His mission statement is to think outside of the box as a doctor, and his relentless pursuit to always do right by the patient is the core of The Resident and what stands out about the premiere season. His on-and-off again relationship with Nurse Nic, played by the talented Emily VanCamp adds a romantic element to the show, but not in an overbearing, obnoxious way. While their relationship is important to the series, it is not the central focus, making room for other narratives and plots. While at times the writing on the show feels a bit over-the-top and outlandish, there is something to be said about how the cast makes it work anyway. It’s an interesting juxtaposition between questionable dialogue and top-notch acting, and perhaps this is exactly why The Resident is managing to gain the success it has. The audience isn’t always convinced with the episode’s story, but they are tuned in because there is an addicting quality to The Resident we can’t seem to shake. And that is what makes this series work–even if we aren’t always convinced with the story at hand.
The Resident presents the emotional ramifications in a world full of questionable morals
The Resident single-handedly educates and tugs at your heartstrings with every episode of the first season. With every hospital case, comes an emotional element that audiences don’t anticipate experiencing. Case in point, in episode 3, “Comrades in Arms”, an undocumented employee of Chastain Park Memorial falls ill but the hospital administration resists taking responsibility for her care because the cost it would incur. There are aspects of this episode that don’t come together as well as they should, but The Resident does a phenomenal job of pulling in the audience to the heart of the situation. This is accomplished through the writing which truly encapsulates the mood of this episode–and every other episode in the season. There is something to be said about how much emphasis there is on the emotional aspect of this series, and it is something that makes The Resident so unique. Time and time again unethical and questionable behavior drive the hospital board in this series, but Conrad, Nic, and Devon shine as the moral compass and carry each episode flawlessly.
Nic: “Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States after Cancer and Heart Disease. They don’t want us talking about that.”
Devon: “But you still show up every day.”
Nic: “Because it’s personal to me, and there are still plenty of good doctors and nurses trying to do the right thing. I’m just trying to be one of them.”
The redeeming quality of the story told in The Resident’s first season is the ability to produce plot points that have never really been the focus of a medical series before. Sure, we’ve seen some version of them at some point, but The Resident discusses the aspects of a hospital other shows don’t dare to. Within its first season, the series presented a greedy hospital board, surgeons covering up their mistakes during surgery, sexual harassment, and that is just the beginning. But it doesn’t just simply lay the episode out there. They dive deep into the emotional, physical, and mental toll it takes on the characters, and how they deal with it. In episode 7, “The Elopement”, Nic is sexually harassed by a V.I.P. patient and when the hospital chooses to look the other way due to his status, she heroically defends herself. While this affects her personally, it is admirable to watch her character take a stand and resist the norm as well as the hospital’s ignorance of this sort of behavior. Aspects such as these is why The Resident is an interesting show to watch because it dares you to feel–and become one with the story and its characters.
The writers of The Resident portray the dark world behind hospital doors–though it is not always convincing
The Resident sets out to dramatize hospitals as a business. Is it always believable? And at times is it a bit out there? Yes, it is. But, for all intents and purposes, it is a television series that seeks to take a unique perspective on a genre that is overflowing with the same mundane storylines. Others choose to focus on the sexy, steamy on-call relationships, but The Resident chooses to highlight how hospitals are run like a business and how this doesn’t necessarily produce comforting results. The show’s creators and writers, Amy Holden Jones, Roshan Sethi, and Hayley Schore, along with many others, have given us something remarkably perplexing in the stories they have written in the first season. The amount of situations they bring forward in each episode is mind-boggling because, for many, these are not circumstances that have ever been faced before or acknowledged. Throughout the season, the biggest storyline is that of Dr. Lane Hunter’s (Melina Kanakaredes) who misdiagnoses and over treats cancer patients to commit Medicare fraud. It is very difficult to grasp that a medical professional could actually go to such lengths, but is it impossible? This is the aftertaste The Resident gives us because while these situations may or may not be a reality, the idea that the writers are able to concoct such a tale is extremely impressive.
“The Resident has been something I’ve been trying to do in different forms for a long time. I got tired of writing medical shows because the ones on television are virtually the same show. They’re all soaps, they’re all spin offs of Grey’s or ER, they are shadows or echoes of previous shows. Virtually none of them address what any of us will find if we actually fall into the medical system. This show does that. It’s about the idealism of the young doctors as they come in. How do you become a doctor without losing your ideals? Because it’s a very corrupted system.” – Amy Holden Jones (creator and writer)
However, while the writing is courageous and different than other shows, the audience is not always convinced of where the story is heading. For those in the medical profession, it is perhaps frustrating and antagonizing to watch a series that attacks their job and highlights all of its negativity. Of course, every workplace has its secrets and trauma, and a hospital is no different. But there are episodes within the first episode that are far-reaching and difficult to stomach. There are numerous examples that exist within the series but a common occurrence is when the sentimental doctors overstep their privileges to help a patient out. Whether it’s letting a patient leave without filling out the proper paperwork, or hiding a patient and secretly performing surgery on them while ICE is running through the hospital halls to locate them–it often feels like a bit too much, While the idea is commendable and honorable and makes for thrilling television, it doesn’t always keep the audience engaged because its too unrealistic. Nonetheless, the writers manage to pull it off and make it work–even if we’re not always persuaded to believe in the story.
Embedded within The Resident’s controversial plot are relatable characters exuding empathy and compassion for humanity
While the plot may often be a hit or miss, the one aspect of The Resident that shines brightly is its amazing group of characters. Each one surpasses the next with their relatability, compassion, and perseverance that uplifts the audience from the get-go. At the forefront of it all is Matt Czuchry’s character, Dr. Conrad Hawkins. He is an unconventional doctor that pushes the boundaries of medicine and urges his residents to do the same. Czuchry flawlessly executes this role with minimal effort and makes it believable. Conrad’s hard-ass exterior is simply a facade to the emotional gush that lies within. Watching Czuchry take on this role is a welcome change from his infamous roles of the past including Gilmore Girls and The Good Wife. The level of relatability that exists in Conrad’s character catches the audience off-guard after it becomes apparent that he always puts patient care first–no matter the cost. It is a sentiment many can agree with and connect to because it is the finest definition of empathy.
And while Conrad is Chastain Park Memorial’s savior, Nurse Nic is its moral compass that defines compassion and kindness. VanCamp deserves a standing ovation for the way she plays Nic and makes every moment believable. Similar to Conrad, her patients are of utmost importance to her and she stops at nothing to provide them the best care possible. Her storyline is an intriguing one in the premiere season as she fights tooth and nail for one of her patients, Lily. Along the way, she becomes a target of a corrupt doctor and is blamed for this patient’s death, but this does not prevent Nic from fighting for justice. Her relentless, eager, and unflinching demeanor ignites a motivation inside viewers unlike anything else. It’s no surprise that her character is someone many can connect to because she fights for what she believes in and does it gallantly and unapologetically. She is The Resident’s Wonder Woman–and brings us in with her love and tenderness.
Conrad: You came in here all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to save lives, but today, you didn’t save a life. What was rule one, Devon?
Devon: Do whatever you tell me to do, no questions asked.
Conrad: All we want to do is help our patients, but what they don’t teach in medical school is that there are so many ways to do harm.
Alongside Nic and Conrad is Dr. Devon Pravesh, played by the extremely talented Manish Dayal. He completes the heroic trio and is the one character that shows the most character development in the first season. When he first enters the story he is confused, nervous, and intimidated by Conrad’s way of teaching. But as the season progresses, Devon comes into his own and gains independence as a doctor. Devon’s character is one many can instantly relate to because he represents that nervous, reluctant person in all of us–the part of us that doesn’t think we have it in us. But his character perseveres throughout the first season and brings his own unique element and level of compassion for the patients he treats. As a new face, Dayal does an excellent job engaging the audience with Devon’s character and makes us invested in his success and progression as a physician. It is often difficult to obtain this level of interest from viewers, but the character of Devon intermingled with Dayal’s superb portrayal has us rooting for him through and through.
And there’s Dr. Mina Okafor–the resident badass of Chastain Park Memorial. Played by Shaunette Renee Wilson, Dr. Okafor is the epitome of fierce and powerful. She has a certain in-your-face type of quality that attracts you and brings you in as she viciously takes down those who oppose her and is the hospital’s best surgeon. Mina often butts heads with the hospital staff, especially her superiors, but this never stops her from doing what she sets out to do. Wilson breathes life into the character of Okafor with her mannerisms, subtle personality nuances, and the ability to channel an emotional side when necessary. For most of the first season, her character has a stand-offish quality but sprinkled throughout are her soft, light moments that really define her–especially in the season one finale. The writers did a fantastic job writing the character of Dr. Okafor because they injected subtle hints of emotion, even if that isn’t who she is.
The Resident is nothing without the complicated, addicting love story of Conrad and Nic
One of the major elements of The Resident’s first season is the relationship between Nic and Conrad. While love stories, hookups, and one-night stands are often the central focus of medical dramas, there is something unique about the love shared between these two characters. There is an instant connection when viewers first see the couple together on-screen, and their complicated past and inability to stay together is something everyone can relate to. Quite often relationships make sense but can’t seem to stick despite both individuals trying. Throughout the first season, Nic and Conrad come together and drift apart a number of times but there is an attraction that they can’t shake off–and the audience can’t let go of. Not much is revealed regarding their history, but the mystery of it has the audience rooting for things to work out between them despite their issues. Czuchry and VanCamp have such perfect chemistry together and make the relationship between these two characters so believable.
Nic: You think you can just kiss me and…
Conrad: I will do whatever it takes to get you back.
Perhaps what makes them even more relatable are their internal struggles. Despite wanting to be with the other person, there is a lot of doubt, anguish, and fear–and who can’t relate to that? Their relationship isn’t the usual hot, steamy on-call hook-up, but runs deeper and stronger than that. They may not always make sense together, but something about them works and this is why viewers fall quickly in love with this couple. Watching Czuchry and VanCamp’s characters interact together on-screen whether as lovers, friends, or co-workers is a treat and a redeeming quality about The Resident. These talented actors really do justice to Conrad and Nic and made their relationship/friendship one worth watching and investing in during the first season.
Final Verdict: Where The Resident often lacks in believability, it makes up for with its cast, passion, and ability to be different
In its first season, The Resident dares to be different and set itself apart from other medical dramas. The genre is overpopulated with the same mundane narratives, but The Resident takes a step forward to defy expectations and tell a story that is often controversial. Despite its critics, it stands strong and resists the haters because the series dares to portray a narrative that others often shine away from–the secrets behind hospital administrations. The Resident teaches its viewers that while the truth is ugly it that doesn’t have to equate to poor medical care. The storytelling, script, and writing of the first season are extremely impressive for a medical drama competing with so many others. And yes, there are certainly outlandish moments that the audience can’t wrap their heads around or medical situations that are handled nothing like they would be in real life, but this is television, and The Resident provides a unique platform to tell a different story.
The cast, crew, and team of medical consultants make this show as real as can be, while still entertaining the idea that it is all fiction. Perhaps having a corrupt Chief of Surgery who suffers from hand tremors and hides it from the entire hospital, and still performs surgeries is a bit out there, but we can’t deny that it makes for good, dramatic television. The Resident is riveting, thrilling, and exciting despite its flaws and imperfections, and sets a new expectation for the direction medical dramas can go in. Not only did it manage to produce a perplexing plot in its first season, but it gave us a solid ending and left the audience with a twist that is sure to bring even more drama, conspiracies, and O-M-G moments than the first season. In its first season, The Resident has managed to create a fanbase of passionate followers who truly believe in the message it is sending–be cautious, be aware, and be vigilant.
The Resident dares to be different in a world saturated with medical dramas and gives us the gift that is Matt Czuchry.The Resident may be on hiatus until the fall but we have plenty of articles to pass the time. Be sure to check out our reviews, recaps, and more on TVAfterDark!
Season One Verdict: “The Resident” [Fox]