15 December 2011

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Top 5 Medical TV Shows

Ever since the golden age of television, medical dramas have remained a staple of network programming. Audiences of all ages love the fast-paced world of the hospital – where a single mistake can lead to a life-or-death emergency – and enjoy rooting for romances to spring up between the shows’ attractive and eccentric doctors and nurses. While some of the shows in this list try to capture the gritty (and gory) reality of hospitals, others take a more humorous stance.

When most people are asked to name the greatest TV medical show of all time, they usually think of M*A*S*H and how its blend of humor and tragedy continues to enthrall viewers. The show was initially designed as a serious critique of the Vietnam War (though set in Korea), but as the series continued it became more comedic. The boozy, womanizing “Hawkeye” Pierce, the stern but fair Major Houlihan, and the goofy, cross-dressing Klinger became some of the most beloved characters in television history, which is why the show continues to run in syndication.

General Hospital
While soap operas steer away from realism to achieve maximum drama, they have been a staple of television programming for decades. Originally airing in 1963, General Hospital remains one of the longest-running daytime soap operas, and with 21 Daytime Emmy Awards nominations, is considered by many to be the best. Like most soaps, the show focuses on the loves and losses of several intertwining families such as the Spencers, with the pairing of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber becoming one of the most popular plot lines. Although the show’s hospital setting has expanded over time, the program continues to address important social issues such as HIV and obesity.

Grey’s Anatomy
As the current “top dog” of American medical dramas, Grey’s Anatomy depicts the fictional lives of a group of surgeons and interns working in Seattle Grace Mercy West Hospital. The show focuses mainly on the love life and career of Meredith Grey and the relationships she has with her peers. Throughout the series, she engages in a rocky relationship with neurosurgeon Derek Shepherd and struggles to find a cure for her mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. The show also explores a variety of issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, alcohol abuse and abortion, and in 2007, won a Golden Globe for best television drama.

ER, which first aired in 1994, was another long-lived medical drama that continued for a staggering 15 seasons before its cancellation in 2009. The show focused on the emergency room staff of County General Hospital, and how they dealt with the problems facing an urban environment. Unlike medical shows of the past, the gritty realism brought about by writer Michael Crichton’s actual experiences in a hospital emergency room set this show apart from others. ER is also known for launching the career of actor George Clooney, who played Dr. Doug Ross.

House, M.D.
House, M.D., currently in its 8th season, remains popular due to the show’s hero and antagonist Dr. Gregory House, a drug-addicted misanthropist who manages to make brilliant medical diagnoses that save lives in spite of the way he treats his patients and staff. His cruel but often correct assessments of other people’s motives give the show a darkly humorous edge, and the Sherlock Holmes-style reasoning he uses when faced with bizarre and rare illnesses has continued to fascinate audiences.

Even though these medical shows and others often sacrifice realism for the sake of entertainment, they continue to inspire students interested in medical careers from practical nursing to neurosurgery.

About today's Guest Writer:
Brandi Tolleson received her master’s degree in English from Cal State Long Beach in 2007.

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