A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes of acceptance run throughout the show, with frank discussions about how our differences make us stronger.
Positive Role Models
The cast is diverse in terms of race and gender, with people of color in prominent positions of power. The lead character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, works to become a surgeon in order to help others, having been deeply affected by troubling losses in his childhood. He speaks his mind (it is made clear this habit is a hallmark of his autism) and breaks the rules if he needs to when a life is at stake. His mentor, hospital president Dr. Aaron Glassman, is a fervent advocate for Murphy, and argues with hospital staff about how the differently abled should not be defined by their limitations or preconceived notions.
Violence & Scariness
As the show is a medical drama, you can expect to see the usual amount of operating room scenes -- bodies open on the table, innards exposed during surgery -- and sometimes the accidents that lead up to someone being hospitalized. There are some flashbacks of the young Shaun being physically bullied by peers. An animal is thrown against a wall in one scene (we don't see the immediate aftermath). Some security guards tackle a character roughly.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Typical hospital romance stuff: residents under the covers together in the on-call room, a kiss in a hallway. References to "screwing."
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Swears like "bitch" and "damn."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Good Doctor is a medical drama with all the usual trappings: workplace romances, bloody surgery scenes, and disagreements between the lower-level staff and the upper management. The main character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, is a young man with autism and savant syndrome, and the show examines the challenges he faces trying to work alongside his neurotypical peers who don't always understand the way he behaves (he's referred to as "really weird" by one). There are childhood flashbacks involving bullying and abusive family members.
Is It Any Good?
While it may follow the same contrived formula that so many hospital dramas have relied on, this show is elevated by Freddie Highmore's genuine, sweet, and thoughtful performance. Autism is a spectrum disorder, and as such, no two autistic people are alike -- everyone has different personalities, behaviors, and levels of functioning -- which means that no show is going to get autistic characters "right" 100% of the time. This show is no exception. Add in the fact that the lead character also has savant syndrome, meaning that he conveniently exhibits above-average skills in certain areas (in his case, an encyclopedic medical memory), and it would be easy to criticize The Good Doctor for making what some in the autism community have termed "inspiration porn."
There's also the fact that the show relies on the idea of a "quirky doctor who's bad with people, but great with medicine." Dr. Murphy's relationship with his mentor Dr. Glassman is warm, and while the doctor is fervently outspoken in his belief that his skeptical colleagues need to learn to accept Shaun, he doesn't make the mistake of speaking for him, as if he's helpless -- a detail that may seem small, but that makes his advocacy and their bond ring true. If they can continue to examine Shaun's interior life and how he navigates his challenging new environment without turning his behavior into a punchline, they may have a solid show on their hands.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.