By Lisa Respers France, CNN
According to “The Resident” showrunner and executive producer Andrew Chapman, there was a time when the medical drama took some heat from those in the field.
“We were really the first show to show problems in medicine and to really attack them and we took a lot of flack from doctors all across the country saying, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Doctors are heroes, et cetera, et cetera,” Chapman told CNN. “And we said, ‘Yeah, doctors are heroes. Absolutely. But there are issues out there and you have to deal with these issues.'”
Now about to air the finale of their fourth season on May 18, Chapman said that’s all turned around.
“Over the course of our now four seasons to run into people who are in the healthcare world, to have them come to me and go, ‘Oh, you work on “The Resident?” I love that show. It’s so true that this is a problem and that we deal with that problem all the time,'” he said. “That’s incredibly fulfilling to me.”
That type of respect has come from the show tackling some very real world issues including the current pandemic, as well as some not ordinarily seen on the small screen, such as racial disparity in medical care.
Manish Dayal stars as Dr. Devon Pravesh on “The Resident.” He praised his series for “really spotlighting issues that are happening around our country and our world and taking on the responsibility of discussing those things and asking our viewers what their thoughts are on it.”
“It’s said that if you want better healthcare in this world, you have to achieve equity. And I think that that’s something that is true amongst so many different platforms.” he told CNN. “These are subjects that we talk about in the show and to be able to talk about medical issues like the sickle cell crisis and healthcare disparity among Black and Brown populations in this country during a global pandemic really elevates our show and our storytelling.”
Dayal’s character lost his father to Covid-19 on the show, something made even more poignant to the actor of Indian descent, given what has been happening in that country.
“I think what’s happening in India is, is one of the most horrible humanitarian crisis we’ve ever seen,” Dayal said. “I feel like Devon is the kind of guy that would just go there and help, get down and dirty and do whatever he can to bring respirators to people in rural areas of India who are dying by the thousands.”
The show tries to give visibility to real medical issues
Such empathy is a reflection of the writers on the show including Daniela Lamas and Anthony “Tony” Chin-Quee, both of whom are doctors.
Chin-Quee said the writers room really focuses on trying to accurately portray what those in the medical field grapple with on a daily basis. For him, that means being able to give voice to Black doctors such as himself and reflect stories from his community.
“I think the most important thing is to give airtime and visibility to a lot of these issues,” said Chin-Quee, who is new to the writing staff. “For example, with our sickle cell storyline, I know both Daniela and I felt so strongly about this storyline, because sickle cell anemia really isn’t a disease that gets airtime on TV.”
Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder which is found most commonly in the African American community. Those who suffer from it don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body.
This season’s sickle cell story line was based on an experience Lamas, who works in pulmonary and critical care, had with a former patient. She said that patient’s story stayed in her heard because Lamas doesn’t feel like she had adequately helped her.
Lamas sees her work on the show as an extension of the education she seeks to give as a medical professional.
“It’s a way to teach through stories that people actually tune into because they’re entertaining and because they’re engaging,” she said.
The season 4 finale of “The Resident” airs Tuesday on Fox.