Big Medicine

TV review by
Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media
Big Medicine TV Poster Image
Parents recommend
Obesity surgery can be heavy viewing.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The featured medical professionals care about their patients' health and engage one another in healthy debate. Patients speak frankly about their situations. Patients come from diverse backgrounds. The obesity-focused subject matter may bring up body issues for viewers.


Graphic surgical scenes, sometimes involving blood.


Discussion of sexual activity, feelings of attractiveness, and desire -- all in a therapeutic setting. Some nonsexual nudity related to treatment; key parts are always blurred.


Rare mild profanity like "sucks" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the surgery scenes in this medical reality show are sometimes bloody and often graphic, showing intestines, veins, stomachs, and more. Given the show's focus on bodies (the featured doctors treat morbid obesity), there are lots of scenes involving nudity, though it's in a nonsexual context, and key naked parts are always blurred or covered (underwear is sometimes visible). Sex -- including desire and frequency -- is sometimes discussed in a therapeutic setting. Brief shots of bedsores and other weight-related injuries can be difficult to see. The show's topic may bring up body image issues for some viewers.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygoldaa April 9, 2008
Adult Written bymichellejenkins0721 April 9, 2008

These doctors are amazing! Great Learning Show

Dr. D (Davis) performed my gastric bypass a month ago and I must say he is as awesome in person as he is on tv. He and his son truely care about their patients... Continue reading

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What's the story?

BIG MEDICINE is a reality show following the practice of father and son doctors (Drs. Robert Davis and Garth Davis, respectively) who specialize in gastric bypass surgery. The doctors, who practice at The Methodist Hospital in Houston, TX, treat their obese patients with respect and a deep concern for their illness and quality of life. Their patients also receive psychological evaluations from Dr. Mary Jo, who determines whether or not the patients are a good fit for gastric bypass surgery.

Is it any good?

The show gives viewers the sense that the two doctors, the more traditional father and more experimental son, are a friendly, knowledgeable team with a passion for their work. Patients include 26-year-old Alan, whose weight is unknown, but probably nears 1,000 pounds. He is confined to his bed where his monolingual Spanish-speaking mother cares for him daily, from helping him go to the bathroom, to bathing him and changing the bandages on his bedsores. Another patient is a 19-year-old young woman who, after undergoing bypass surgery, has an enormous amount of excess skin that makes her body look like it belongs to a much older woman. She gets plastic surgery to improve her skin tone and appearance.

The shots of these morbidly obese patients as they lay naked in their home or hospital beds (with key parts covered by blankets) are sometimes shocking. Watching feels like invading someone's privacy, but part of the appeal of the show is being able to see bodies one might have wondered about, but never actually seen. With such intense fat phobia in our culture, Big Medicine walks a fine line between engendering empathy, and contributing to a sense of disgust, rather than respect.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media deals with obesity. What messages do TV shows and movies send about being overweight? How does the media contribute to being overweight? (For some facts, click here.) Does this show affect your opinion of obesity and those who are overweight? How? Do you think surgery is a good way for dealing with extreme obesity? What other options are there? Have you ever struggled with weight or other body image issues? If so, how did you deal with it?

TV details

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