By Melissa Camacho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Soapy, bloody medical drama lacks a pulse.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Medical and relationship dramas play out predictably. Racist, sexist stereotypes.
Positive Role Models
Dr. Panttiere is brilliant, stubborn, afraid of personal commitment.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of bloody procedures, surgeries, wounds; death, a gun-inflicted suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Strong innuendo, crude references to genitals.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
References to getting drunk, high.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Heartbeat is a medical drama that contains bloody surgeries, conversations about death, and occasional violent acts (such as suicides). There's some strong innuendo, references to drinking and getting high, and words such as "damn" and "hell." There are lots of stereotypes, but actual racist and sexist remarks are viewed as inappropriate.
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What's the Story?
HEARTBEAT is a television medical drama about the life of an unconventional cardiothoracic surgeon. Inspired by real-life surgeon Dr. Kathy Magliano, it stars Melissa George as Dr. Alex Panttiere, a brilliant, brazen, and boundary-breaking doctor who will do everything she can to help her patients. Working alongside her at St. Matthews hospital is fellow surgeon and boyfriend Pierce Harrison (Dave Annable), former mentor and lover Dr. Jesse Shane (Don Hany), and the politically incorrect Dr. Callahan (Jamie Kennedy). Also joining the team is Nurse Ji-Sung (Maya Erskine), psychiatrist Dr. Hackett (played by D.L. Hughley), and Forester (JLouis Mills), a rather eccentric orderly. But as Panttiere brings cutting-edge technology and surgical procedures to the research hospital, she must contend with the hospital's administrator, Millicent Silvano (Shelley Conn). When she's not dealing with the nonstop life-and-death conditions of her patients, she's at home raising her two kids with the help of her gay ex-husband and rock star Max (played by Joshua Leonard). It's a complicated life but one that brings her a lot of satisfaction along the way.
Is It Any Good?
The mildly dramatic, soapy medical series combines narratives about treating illness, hospital politics, and complicated romantic entanglements. However, these stories quickly flatline, failing to create the intensity necessary to make them compelling. Meanwhile, some of the casts' stereotypical behaviors make them feel more like caricatures rather than professionals you’d want to see in an operating room.
As with any doctor-themed show, it offers lots of unique life-threatening conditions, novel techniques, and modern medical miracles. But attempts to highlight the actual doctoring feel halfhearted and are hard to take seriously thanks to the show's endless array of predictable moments. Some folks may find it entertaining enough to watch, but overall, it lacks a healthy pulse.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about medical dramas. What makes them appealing to audiences? Do you think what goes on on these shows resembles the real lives of medical professionals?
Is it ever appropriate to use stereotypes as a way of offering comic relief?
- Premiere date: March 22, 2016
- Cast: Melissa George, Dave Annable, Don Harry
- Network: NBC
- Genre: Drama
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: February 26, 2022
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