The Good Doctor

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
The Good Doctor TV Poster Image
Doc on autism spectrum defies prejudices in medical drama.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 16 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Themes of acceptance run throughout the show, with frank discussions about how our differences make us stronger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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

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.

Sex

Typical hospital romance stuff: residents under the covers together in the on-call room, a kiss in a hallway. References to "screwing."

Language

Swears like "bitch" and "damn."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 and 13 year old Written byOfficer Dad November 22, 2017

Why do they have to mix such a nice show with adult crap.

I understand that they are trying to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, but I really get irritated that I cannot watch an interesting and thought provoking... Continue reading
Adult Written byiluvlabs0 October 7, 2017

Excellent family television!

My thirteen-year-old daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed the first two episodes. There is a bit of tough in the surgical scenes. The age of appropriateness woul... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old September 27, 2017

The Main Character is a great role model

I think that that this show has a great role model. There is some violence and a little bit of sex but overall I think that this is my new favorite show.
Teen, 13 years old Written byNick208 December 20, 2017

Depends on the Kid

Ok, first off it’s a great show. Secondly, I’m only 13 and I enjoy the show. I’m raised in a home where I learned not to repeat stuff said on TV, so kids who ha... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE GOOD DOCTOR, Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) -- an aspiring surgeon with a double diagnosis of autism and savant syndrome -- leaves his isolated life in the country for a job in the pediatric ward at San Jose's prestigious St. Bonaventure Hospital. He finds himself working alongside colleagues who are either curious about and befuddled by his atypical social behaviors -- like fellow residents Claire (Antonia Thomas) and Jared (Chuku Modu) -- or openly hostile, like the attending surgeon who brusquely informs Shaun that he has no intention of ever letting him actually perform surgery in his operating room. His only real advocate is a mentor from childhood, hospital president Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff). Dr. Glassman puts his own job on the line when trying to convince the reluctant hospital board that they should be hiring Shaun not in spite of his differences, but because of them.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about diversity in the workplace, and why it's important. What does it mean to be "neurodivergent"? Why is it important to hire differently abled people?

  • How do you feel about the show's portrayal of someone with autism? Was it stereotypical, or more nuanced? Did Shaun remind you of any autistic people you have known?

  • Some characters in The Good Doctor debate openly about Shaun and his merits while he is in the room -- almost as if he isn't there. Do you think there is something about Shaun's behavior that makes them feel emboldened to act in this way? Why might this be considered offensive?

TV details

For kids who love medical dramas

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