In this summer’s crop of new TV shows, there is one series that aims to break the mold of that old standby, the hospital drama. It has a splashy cast of characters, from Henry Winkler (also known as “The Fonz” from Happy Days) to film star Megan Mullally. The show in question is “Children’s Hospital” premiering this week on cable stations across America. Produced by actor and political activist Rob Corddry, the concept behind the show is clever– a children’s hospital with plenty of heart-wrenching scenes of young people suffering, lightened by comedic moments and an endless cycle of love trysts between the good-looking actors. But does this new show cross the line from melodrama into cheap exploitation?
A careful review of Children’s Hospital’s first episodes and its promotional material will lead one to conclude that the series is wholly inappropriate for children and is equally offensive to adults. It contains graphic sexual and violent content. As the program is based in a hospital, medical procedures are shown in great detail, with blood, open wounds and surgery being frequent. Violence usually includes explicit examples of injuries, graphic depictions of autopsies and bloody corpses.
The sexual content in this series is usually deviant and perverse. Characters engage in sex frequently, and sex-related dialogue and innuendo is common. Often sex scenes depicting panting and partial nudity are shown. Other sexual content includes, but is not limited to, references to lesbian situations, adultery, premarital sex and masturbation. Foul language primarily consists of the words “bitch,” “damn,” “whore,” “ass,” and “hell.” There are also scenes of alcohol abuse.
In the final analysis, Children’s Hospital feels like nothing more than a gratuitous attempt to profit from the emotionally charged issue of children’s illnesses. For many a parent, particularly those whose kids suffer from disabilities or life-threatening diseases, this is delicate territory. The extent that this show exploits and pushes buttons will strike many as offensive and repulsive. In addition, the plot lines for this TV drama are outrageous and frankly implausible. This low budget project appears to be yet another sad attempt to ride on the coattails of such popular shows as Grey’s Anatomy and House M.D..
In conclusion, it might be worthwhile to reflect on another recent television controversy. When Fox’s dubious series “Family Guy” mocked Sarah Palin’s son Trig for his Downs Syndrome, Governor Palin released a poignant response about TV shows that seek to profit from the suffering of an innocent child. It was written by her daughter and posted to the Governor’s Facebook account:
“People with special needs face challenges that many of us will never confront, and yet they are some of the kindest and most loving people you’ll ever meet. Their lives are difficult enough as it is, so why would anyone want to make their lives more difficult by mocking them? As a culture, shouldn’t we be more compassionate to innocent people – especially those who are less fortunate? Shouldn’t we be willing to say that some things just are not funny? Are there any limits to what some people will do or say in regards to my little brother or others in the special needs community?” —Bristol Palin