Editor's Note: For another view on
Emily Owens, M.D., see Ed Bark's review.
It turns out I’m in the distinct minority in enjoying CW’s new Emily Owens, M.D.
series — but I’m more than happy to defend my qualified yet genuine enthusiasm. Here’s why…
On NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross last month, in my preview of the fall 2012 TV season, I said there wasn’t one new series on broadcast TV that you had to add to your weekly viewing list. I also said, considering what a subpar year it was, the one show that stood above the rest was Emily Owens, M.D., which premieres Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET on the CW.
Some of my friends and colleagues have questioned that recommendation, and privately accused me of getting it wrong. They say Emily Owens is nothing but an annoying, vapid drama aimed at teens, reducing medical professionals to the emotional level of high schoolers.
But no, I say, it’s more than that.
As I see it, it’s trying to be, in the 2010s, what Ally McBeal and Doogie Howser, M.D. and The Wonder Years all tried to be in previous generations. It’s trying to show us the internal struggles and insecurities of a young person still being formed and shaped — in this case, in the person of Emily Owens, a brand-new doctor at a competitively staffed Denver hospital.
Now, Emily Owens is no Ally McBeal — as I said on NPR, this year’s new shows are being graded on a curve. But the star of this show, Mamie Gummer, is as talented as she is endearing. Fans of The Good Wife will recognize her recurring role as Nancy, the young but shrewd attorney. And the pilot, while definitely making many of its characters seem emotionally immature, doesn’t do so any more than, say, ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. Or HBO’s The Newsroom.
So give Emily Owens a break.
Actually, it gets one already, thanks to some very canny scheduling by the CW. It’s guaranteed to draw a larger audience Tuesday night than any other scripted drama or comedy in its time slot on broadcast TV — because there aren’t any others.
At 9 p.m. ET on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and even PBS, the competition is the second presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. That’s the thoughtful choice, of course — but for those seeking an alternative, or programming their DVRs, Emily Owens, M.D. is there for the taking.
And the tasting.