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 The Night Shift is a tense, bloody drama about an unconventional group of doctors who work the overnight shift at a hospital emergency room. As is standard for a hospital drama, there are frequent medical emergencies, with many in each episode. Patients die suddenly, are shown covered in blood and gore, and receive extremely graphic surgeries, which are shown on-screen with lots of blood and gaping wounds. Children are frequently in jeopardy and sometimes die. Characters on-screen drink frequently to let off steam after work and refer to drugs playfully. Drugs and alcohol sometimes play a part in medical emergencies. The doctors sometimes curse, particularly in moments of high drama. The majority of the doctors are single; expect dating, flirting, and on-screen kissing and sometimes sex, though there's no nudity.
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What's the story?
After three tours of duty in Afghanistan, T.C. Callahan, M.D. (Eoin Macken), is learning that his toughest job might be right here at home. On THE NIGHT SHIFT, at a San Antonio emergency room, by-the-books hospital administrator Michael Ragosa (Freddy Rodriguez) is newly in charge and tasked with the job of cutting costs and bringing the hospital's doctors in line. T.C.'s not so crazy about that idea, even while he supports his ex-girlfriend and professional colleague Jordan Alexander (Jill Flint), who's angling for the job of head night-shift doctor wrangler. While T.C., Jordan, and a cast of irreverent doctors and nurses care for the patients that crowd their workplace daily, they also carry on their own lives. With goofballs around like T.C.'s BFFs Topher Zia (Ken Leung) and Drew Alister (Brendan Fehr), there are times for pranks, but, when lives are at stake, these doctors are ready for serious business.
Is it any good?
Even if you haven't seen this show before, you'll probably feel like you have. The show follows so exactly in the rhythms of other medical dramas such as Grey's Anatomy that it feels like the writing and acting is just paint-by-numbers. And c'mon, it even looks like Eoin Macken is styled exactly like Grey's McSteamy (Patrick Dempsey). That alone may interest Grey's fans, and maybe they're the only ones who will find something to love about this limp, just-OK drama. Otherwise, it feels like a disappointing waste of a good cast. Ken Leung was so good on Lost, and anyone who was a fan of Six Feet Under surely retains an adoration for sharp Freddy Rodriguez.
The writing is also at times irritatingly illogical. In the show's pilot, T.C. and Topher (a TV name if ever we heard one) are called to the scene of an auto accident, where they daringly free a young boy who has a spinal cord accident, which T.C. then repairs in a risky surgery. So, wait. Two ER doctors leave their workplace to rush to the scene of an accident? Um, don't paramedics do that? And then they help rescue a kid from a smashed car? Um, don't fire fighters and highway emergency workers do that? And hey, what happened to all of T.C. and Topher's patients while they were spending hours at the accident site? Sloppy writing, just sloppy. For medical-drama junkies only.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about shows they've seen that are similar to The Night Shift. How is this show like those shows? How is it different?
TV and movie critics talk about a type of character called a "Mary Sue," who doesn't seem to be particularly exceptional to audiences but whom the on-screen characters talk about in unreasonably glowing terms. Who is the Mary Sue of The Night Shift?
Why are hospitals such an enduring setting for TV dramas? What's exciting or interesting about a hospital? Why does it make for interesting television?