What do you get when you cross the premise of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ with the comical insecurity of ‘Ally McBeal’ and add in the blithe social awkwardness of ‘Scrubs?’ The answer is “Emily Owens, M.D.,” the latest offering from the CW that promises to be a runaway hit.
The idea of a less-than-perfect protagonist is nothing new. Back in 2005, Korean network MBC aired ‘My Lovely Sam-Soon,’ a romantic comedy about a socially awkward woman saddled with a man’s name. That show enjoyed ratings of 50%, a share U.S. shows can only dream about. Argentina aired the wildly popular telenovella ‘Mi Gorda Bella’ about an obese teenager fighting to rescue her home and inheritance from her scheming aunt. The formula makes sense no matter what country you’re in, because statistically speaking, the largest portion of humanity is made up of people who are not superstars, but merely average, or maybe a little above or below. Shows like this remind us that we are not alone in our blunders, that it’s ok to be less than perfect, that we can even thrive despite our imperfections.
The story centers on the personnel at Denver Memorial Hospital. Mamie Gummer stars as the title character, bringing to the role a fragile vulnerability that’s instantly credible. Opposite her is Aja Naomi King as Cassandra Kopelson, Emily’s old high school rival, a mean girl with a surprisingly human side. Her complexity is sure to keep audiences guessing. Justin Hartley(Smallville) takes the role of inaccessible heartthrob Will Collins. Turning this triangle into a love square is Michael Rady, playing Dr. Micah Barnes, the resident in charge of the interns who takes an instant liking to Emily. Whether or not Emily will clue in to Micah’s feelings for her is anybody’s guess, but the journey promises to be very interesting indeed.
Added to this group is fellow intern and best-friend-in-the-making Tyra Dupre (Kelly McCreary). Dr. Gina Bandari (Necar Zadegan) is the attending physician over the interns and a brilliant surgeon in her own right. Her bedside manner, however, is cold enough to qualify as cryogenic therapy, and makes for excellent contrast to Emily’s deep personal caring for her patients.
Perhaps the most unique member of the cast is teenage actress Julia Sarah Stone, who plays the recurring role of Abbey, a student at the high school across the street from the hospital. Emily’s conversations with her are a very concrete incarnation of the internal arguments Emily constantly has with herself and the personal ghosts from her past. These windows into Dr. Owens’ psyche add an extra dimension of character development that many series could learn from. Miss Stone should feel proud to be part of something so fresh and quietly brilliant.
Bottom line, ‘Emily Owens, M.D.’ is proving to be a fantastic show. While the direction is pretty standard, the writing is absolutely inspired and the acting is exactly where it should be. It’s definitely worth watching – again and again and again.
In the Minneapolis area, you can check out ‘Emily Owens’ Tuesdays at 8:00 pm on channel 23.1 WUCWDT. To watch it anywhere in the U.S., click here:
Hulu Plus ($8/month, HD )
Title: Emily Owens, M.D.
Director: Bharat Nalluri
Screenplay: Jennie Snyder
Release dates: 10/16/2012~2/15/2013