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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this documentary-like news series takes place inside real hospitals, where real -- and often graphic -- surgeries happen every day. To that end, some scenes involve blood, with close-ups of incisions and wound-stitching (as well as a few cases that end in death). But in the end the show remains respectful without glorifying gore or loss for the sake of good TV, and overall, the tone is educational rather than exploitative.
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What's the story?
Filmed over four months inside a trio of Boston hospitals, BOSTON MED is an eight-episode docuseries about the lives of patients, doctors, and nurses at Massachusetts General, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Children's Hospital Boston. The show is a follow-up to producer Terry Wrong's Peabody Award-winning series Hopkins, a similarly themed six-part documentary (which was based, in turn, on the 2000 televised special Hopkins 24/7) that aired in 2008 and centered on the day-to-day dramas at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Is it any good?
The creators of Grey's Anatomy say they were inspired, at least in part, by Wrong's original Hopkins 24/7 special, a groundbreaking venture that brought cinema verite to prime time in then-unprecedented ways. But while Grey's might have had its roots in reality, it didn't take long for it to veer into ridiculous territory involving sex with ghosts and McDreamy/Steamy doctors. Based on that alone, Boston Med gets major points for medical realism.
There's a lot, of course, that the cameras leave out, particularly when it comes to the thorny issue of health insurance. But the series succeeds in capturing real emotion and real people that viewers can't help but relate to. The show will also feature a remarkable face transplant operation -- the second ever performed in the United States and the first to be so vividly filmed. And that alone is worth watching.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's approach to violence, particularly when it comes to showing surgeries and emergency procedures. Does the show ever go too far? How do the real-life procedures you see on this show compare with dramatized surgeries on shows like Grey's Anatomy?
How real are the things you're seeing, in general? Do you think the hospital staff would behave any differently if the cameras weren't there? Does it surprise you to learn that, in some ways, hospitals are like any other workplace?