Medical dramas are no rarity. From classics like “House” and “General Hospital” to current offerings like “Greys Anatomy” and “Code Black, we’ve possibly seen every version of how it can play out. Or so we thought. In FOX‘s new drama “The Resident,” we’re finally seeing the one obvious aspect missing from most of them: a whip-smart South Asian doctor!
The only other medical shows to prominently feature brown actors are “ER,” where Parminder Nagra played Dr. Neela Rasgotra, and “House,” which saw Kal Penn as Dr. Lawrence Kutner.
On “The Resident,” Manish Dayal stars as Dr. Devon Pravesh, a wide-eyed, idealistic intern. The series, which premiered this week, flips the script on the usual emotional turbulence of the aforementioned medical shows. So far, its not tugging at our emotional heartstrings or giving us clandestine hookups. Its tackling serious problems with healthcare like corruption.
We’re introduced to Devon as he readies for his first day at the Chastain Memorial Hospital. In his home, we see a collection of photos of his family. You know, the proud Indian parents whose son went to Yale and Harvard. We meet his girlfriend Priya, who is there to remind him how just good he is.
His assigned supervisor, third year internist Conrad Hawkins, isn’t the friendly mentor he hoped for but he’s brilliant at his job. Conrad has the whole bad boy with a good heart thing going on. He’s strict and pushy, which drives most of the interns away. He basically challenges Devon to hold his own and assigns him some tough cases, which for the first day for an intern seems unrealistic.
Devon befriends Nicolette, a nurse at the hospital and Conrad’s on-again, off-again love interest. She becomes his unofficial guide as he charters the hospital territory and convinces him to stick with Conrad. Devon also meets two of his idols; the chief of surgery Randolph Bell and cancer specialist Lane Hunter. Unbeknownst to him, Randolph is actually an immoral doctor who resorts to things like blackmail and covering up his fatal surgical mistakes and Lane gives off equally shady vibes.
It’s the latter part that works most for “The Resident.” We’ve not seen medical shows go down and dirty with the behind-the-scenes of how a hospital actually works. One of Devon’s patient is brain dead and he’s naturally upset. Nic tells him sadly that the hospital would sooner give him a medal because the more they keep caring for the patient, the more the hospital can bill the family.
Similarly, one of Conrad’s patient, a high school science teacher, has been waiting for a new heart for a transplant for years. Just when they’re ready for surgery, Dr. Randolph swoops in to steal the heart for a patient with much more wealth because it will look good for the hospital if they save a more affluent patient.
It’s these gritty details that gripped me for the first two hours of “The Resident.” Plus, Dayal does a good job of showing us Devon’s struggle as a new doctor as he deals with Conrad’s brash personality. He’s charming in the role of the newbie hero, which is somewhat Dayal’s actual predicament. Before “The Resident,” he’s got a bunch of TV credits including “Halt and Catch Fire,” “Switched at Birth,” “90210,” and “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.” He’s not led a show before, especially as intense as this one.
Dayal is in good company with actors Matt Czuchry (“Gilmore Girls”), Emily VanCamp (“Revenge”), Bruce Greenwood (“American Crime Story”), Shaunette Renee Wilson (“Billions”), Merrin Dungey (“Private Practice”), and Melina Kanakarades (“CSI: NY”) rounding out the cast.
However, as good of an ensemble “The Resident” has, it falters with its writing. The dialogues are beyond cliched, they’re corny. The concept of the show is a fresh take at the healthcare system. I wish it was as bold with its writing and execution as it is with the idea behind it. Luckily, its gripped me just enough that I’ll watch a few more episodes. Besides, it helps that Dayal is super easy on the eyes.
“The Resident” airs Monday nights on FOX at 9/8c.