This past fall, a new TV drama debuted in the United States called The Good Doctor. For those not familiar with the show, the main character is a young doctor named Shaun Murphy, who is played by British actor Freddie Highmore from another TV series called Bates Motel, that has Asperger Syndrome. Murphy graduated from medical school and found a job at a hospital in California where he reunites with an older doctor named Dr. Aaron Glassman, who looked after him after he ran away from his abusive father as a young boy.
There are different examples of Asperger traits displayed by Dr. Murphy. In one episode, Dr. Murphy thoroughly examines every patient during check-ups based on hospital protocol while at the same time, other doctors are telling him to cut corners and send the patients home due to time constraints and cost of care for those without insurance coverage. He is so caught up in following hospital procedures that Dr. Murphy is unable to break the rules and take shortcuts because of his loyalty to the job. In other words, he has issues assessing situations on a case by case basis
A different episode features Dr. Murphy having trouble repairing various items around his apartment. When Dr. Glassman tells Dr. Murphy to contact the landlord at any time for repairs, Dr. Murphy took the statement literally because he woke his landlord in the middle of the night and gave him a list of items to repair. Dr. Glassman tells Dr. Murphy that he needs a therapist to teach him common sense.
Dr. Murphy’s biggest test so far in the series came when a bus crash sent many victims to the hospital. The scene was very chaotic with multiple injured people entering the hospital. Dr. Murphy is overwhelmed at first as many with Aspergers are when placed in a sensory stimulating situation to the point he could not follow directions. I am proud what happened next as he composed himself quickly and helped his team get those involved in the crash to the surgery room.
Despite the ability to impress his colleagues with his savant-like memory of medical terms and procedures, Dr. Murphy has issues with making friends, which many Neurotypicals take for granted. For example, he does not understand why someone enters a romantic relationship. His only real friend, so far, is a woman who lives in the same apartment complex as Murphy named Lea. While those who do not have Aspergers are often turned off by the blunt nature of how direct and honest those with Aspergers can be, Lea appreciates the honesty that Dr. Murphy displays.
For the most part, Dr. Murphy can stay composed at his job despite the chaotic atmosphere of the hospital. However, in the winter finale, he has a meltdown in the lobby after getting fed up with Dr. Glassman’s repeated suggestions that he see a therapist. The second half of the season deals with the fallout from the meltdown.
There are many different characteristics of Asperger traits I could point out portrayed on The Good Doctor, but I do not want to give the whole show away for those who have not seen the series. Overall, I like The Good Doctor. Not only does the show, in my opinion, accurately display someone on the higher end of the Autism spectrum, Murphy is also a hard working individual who dedicates himself to his profession.
Although there are some adult situations on the show that are probably not appropriate for small children to watch, I feel those particular scenes tastefully present themselves to the point a teenager or young adult would not be embarrassed to watch an episode with their parents. Unlike most of what is on TV today, it is refreshing to see a show like The Good Doctor that is not vulgar, has compelling storylines and the dialogue between the characters is intelligent. I am glad that there is another example of a person with Aspergers besides Sheldon Cooper or Rain Man.
What are your opinions of The Good Doctor? Comment in the section below.
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