The Good Doctor

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

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 28 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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bychrisman28 September 25, 2017

i dont get the 3 star review

I watched this show ahead of the premeire and I absolutely loved what I saw I feel it can only get better from here the lead is stupendous and very talented his... Continue reading
Parent Written byFancy F. October 24, 2017

Love love it

My little brother loves this show. It gives him hope! He’s autism as well! It’s a good show my whole family and I watch it and are excited for Monday’s now!
Teen, 14 years old Written byPandaman1234 November 1, 2017

Rating + Review

this show is very relatable as I too have autism and many aspects of Shaun's life appeared in mine like his increased sensitivity to noise and how he fidge... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bysnowflake8983 October 27, 2017

Amazing!!!

This show in my opinion is one of the best medical dramas out currently. It's about an autistic doctor and has great messages showing that even if you have... 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love medical dramas

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