Shawconnect TV critic Brent Furdyk samples the upcoming pilots for a first look at the new fall TV season
Starring: Mamie Gummer, Justin Hartley, Kelly McCreary, Michael Rady, Necar Zadegan, Aja Naomi King
The gist: Everybody knows that working in a hospital is just like going to high school, right? Whether or not you agree, this is the dubious premise of Emily Owens, M.D., a fluffy medical dramedy that seems to be aimed squarely at teen girls. Mamie Gummer (still best known as being Meryl Streep’s daughter) plays the titular Dr. Owens, a medical resident for whom saving lives is secondary to trying to get a cute boy to like her.
Emily’s first day on the job in a Denver hospital is hampered by the shocking discovery she’ll be working alongside her lifelong nemesis Cassandra (King), a grade-A mean girl who tormented Emily throughout high school and now does everything she can to humiliate her in front of their demanding boss (Zadegan). To make matters worse, Cassandra gleefully calls Emily by her old high-school nickname, “Pits” (Emily tends to get a bit sweaty when under stress).
It’s like… ER meets Saved By the Bell
Sample line: “Surgery’s a melting pot, a little bit of everything, which basically means none of us get along.”
IMHO: Like her Oscar-winning mom, Gummer is clearly a talented actress destined for far bigger, far better things than this cringe-inducing catastrophe. Even if you buy into the hospital-as-high-school gimmick (orthopedic surgeons are the jocks, anesthesiologists are the stoners, etc.), the idea of a female doctor crushing on a hunky co-worker like a lovestruck 12-year-old is too ridiculous to take seriously, effectively negating Gloria Steinem’s entire life’s work. Gummer gives it her best shot, but Emily is written as a clumsy, neurotic woman-child with zero confidence and even less emotional maturity.
This is far from the season’s only show in which the star outshines the material, but this show so desperately wants to be Grey’s Anatomy for the iCarly set that it thrusts Emily into all manner of incredulous situations simply to embarrass her. At one point, she nervously tells herself (via annoying voiceover) that if her crush (fellow doctor Will Rider, played by Smallville’s Hartley) glances at her at a specific moment it means he likes her; in another scene, she’s mistakenly outed as a lesbian when her gay friend (who doesn’t want her father, the hospital’s chief of surgery, to know she’s gay) enlists Emily to discreetly find out whether a female doctor would be open to some Sapphic shenanigans.
Fun fact: For anyone keeping track, this marks Gummer’s third appearance in a medical show; not only was she in the cast of Shonda Rhimes’ (Grey’s Anatomy) Doctors-Without-Borders-inspired Off the Map, she also guest-starred in an episode of last season’s A Gifted Man.
Verdict: Imagine if ER had been written and performed by a junior-high drama class; it still wouldn’t be nearly as silly as Emily Owens. M.D. On the plus side, name another show that has a better shot of landing Meryl Streep as a guest star.
Prediction: I thought last year’s Hart of Dixie was so awful it would be cancelled immediately, yet it’s coming back for a second season; clearly, I’m no barometer of the viewing tastes of the 13-year-old girls that are The CW’s target audience; who know, dumber shows than this have become hits.
EMILY OWENS, M.D. premieres Tuesday, October 16 on The CW