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 some of the bloodiest scenes in this soapy, tropical-set medical drama are so gory that even adults may sometimes have to look away, which makes them too intense for young children. Most other content is comparatively mild: low-level swearing (mostly words like "damn" or "hell"), some sexual references/tension, and some social drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Newbie recruits Lily Brenner (Caroline Dhavernas), Mina Minard (Mamie Gummer), and Tommy Fuller (Zach Gilford) are in for a rude awakening when they report for duty at a third-world medical clinic "somewhere in South America," a small town OFF THE MAP where the no-fail procedures they studied in medical school don't really apply. So, taking their cues from a team of veterans -- including heartthrobby clinic founder Ben Keeton (Martin Harrison), local doctor Zee Alvarez (Valerie Cruz), ex-Navy medic Otis Cole (Jason George), and fearless physician Ryan Clark (Rachelle Lefevre) -- they set out to forget most of what they learned.
Is it any good?
Sometimes, Off the Map is downright ridiculous. Like when two doctors rush out in the middle of critical surgery and climb a tree to cut down green coconuts, which, they hastily explain in their overscripted dialogue, has the same electrolyte balance as plasma and can therefore substitute for it in a pinch. And then they proceed to haul one into the operating room, hook it up to an IV line, and run a drip straight into their dying patient's bloodstream. All that, and they still manage to meet for beers at an outdoor cantina after work.
Of course, hyperbolic medical moments like these don't really seem all that strange to fans of shows like Grey's Anatomy, which clearly influenced this melodrama that, at times, plays like so much like a south-of-the-equator spin-off that it's silly ... down to the fact that the central female character looks eerily like a young Meredith Grey when she straps on her surgical mask, and the fact that she's falling for her superior, a bearded McDreamy/Steamy hybrid who (naturally) takes his shirt off in the very first episode, and the fact that Grey's alum Jenna Bans created it (and Grey's mastermind Shonda Rimes executive produces). It's Grey's in paradise. OK, we get it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the show's level of violence and what purpose it serves when it comes to storytelling. Does including such graphic content create a sense of realism, or does it just gross you out? Is it meant to be educational or sensational?
How realistic is what you're seeing in terms of medical care in a third-world country? How does health care in the jungle compare to hospitals and doctors' offices in the industrialized world (think also in terms of natural vs. prescription remedies)? Where would you prefer to be when you're hurt or sick?
How does this show compare with other TV medical dramas? What does it have in common with them, and what does it do differently? Do you think shows like Grey's Anatomy heavily influenced it? How can you tell?
Talk about the relationships between the visiting doctors and the village residents. What kinds of tensions exist, and why? How does the show explore cultural differences?