There are so many medical shows on TV nowadays, all of which come with a healthy dose of drama. None more so than NBC’s newest addition, New Amsterdam. The protagonist, Dr. Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), joins the staff of New Amsterdam hospital as the medical director and immediately makes drastic changes. Those cheesy commercials made this nursing major roll her eyes every time she saw them. However, Hulu shoved them down my throat so often, I gave in.
For the first half of New Amsterdam’s pilot, I found myself feeling dumbfounded. Dr. Goodwin’s intentions are to change the system for the benefit of the patients. Wanting to help people and make a difference is why most healthcare professionals get into the field. So far, so good. I understand the desire to make changes. I understand how frustrating it is when the simplest solution isn’t being utilized. But that being said, there are rules for a reason!
There are standards of practice, hospital policies, and competencies staff has to have. Each and every action taken is backed by evidence and research. Firing an entire cardiac surgical service in one swift meeting and then removing the waiting room from a busy urban emergency department? Yeah, that’s not going to fly unless you have stacked of evidence piled to back your decisions up.
Because of those two things alone, I nearly switched it off. I decided to keep going. I thought maybe the show would change course and get good. I was rewarded with so many twists in the second half, I uttered ‘Oh sh*t!’ at least fifteen times.
First, there’s a suspected case of Ebola and Homeland Security thinks it’s being intended as a bioterrorism agent from ISIS. (Seriously.) It turns out not to be Ebola, which we find out after physician Dr. Bloom locks herself into the quarantine area with the sick patient. Sure, she saved him, but she broke serious safety precautions. So… she gets applause from the rest of the staff? It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in reality, it’s so out of place.
Then there’s the psychiatrist, Dr. Frome. He has a deep connection to his one teenage patient in the foster care system. If she’s discharged, she’ll re-enter the system. Dr. Frome’s original plan is to institutionalize her until she’s of age… which means two full years in a mental health wing. He then finds the daughter of his patient’s former foster mother and tries to convince her to become the new foster mom. He even gives her the patient’s journal and explains why he thinks it would be good for them both. I understand patient connections and wanting them to be safe, but this was more creepy than sweet. Social work exists for a reason and giving a stranger a patient’s journals seems to almost break the bond entirely.
But the biggest and most out of place twist is saved for the last ten minutes of the show. It turns out Dr. Goodwin actually has cancer. The hospital’s flashy oncologist Dr. Sharpe returns from talk show appearances and conference talks to reveal this news. Also, she reveals she’s been experiencing burnout and has become immune to the death of her patients. In my opinion, this scene had so much potential. They could have addressed the issue of sudden diagnoses and illnesses. They could have showcased how physicians and other professionals are not immune to the heavy feeling of facing mortality. Instead, the scene felt rushed and overly dramatic. There was a chance to end the pilot just here, to leave a cliffhanger for the remaining episodes. But no. The pilot ends with Dr. Goodwin’s pregnant wife in the ER.
There were more plots than just these four, mind you. The episode itself felt overly showy and rushed. When I originally watched it, I thought it was cool because it was a different take on the medical drama. When I viewed it the second time, I realized it was just terrible writing. The entire hour relies too heavily on the hopes viewers will attach themselves to the character immediately, without proper time to settle in.
Overall, I would suggest skipping this and sticking to Grey’s Anatomy.