Chicago Med





Paul Asay
Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

What makes drama …dramatic?

Is it the tangible tension? The murky mystery? The seat-squeezing suspense?

Well, whatever your answers to those questions, the halls of the ER at Gaffney Chicago Medical Center have plenty of drama that Just. Won’t. Quit.

A Cornucopia of Characters in Close Quarters

In any close-quartered working environment, crazy things are bound to happen. And in a frenetic Windy City hospital, things definitely happen—especially given this show’s epic ensemble cast.

Dr. Connor Rhodes, office hunk and resident hothead, strives to prove his worth in that demanding environment by taking on the wildest medical challenges—even if it means stepping on lots of surgical slipper-clad toes to get there. He once dated Robin Charles, a brilliant-but-hyperactive epidemiologist and daughter of the head of psychiatry, Dr. Daniel Charles (who struggles with depression himself).

Another resident, Dr. Natalie Manning, is a new mother and a new widow, having recently lost her husband, Jeff, while he was on active military duty. She thought she found love again with a fellow resident, Dr. Will Halstead, but their relationship has since hit the skids.

Meanwhile, nurse April Sexton has a big heart for her patients, always wanting what’s best for them. That virtue occasionally gets her in trouble, though. However, that’s nothing compared to the turmoil churned up by her sometime romance with third-year resident Dr. Ethan Choi.

Now, in a normal drama, you might think that was enough characters to fuel years of conflict-filled episodes. But if you’ve ever watched a hospital show before, you know that we’re just getting started.

We Need a Relational Infusion, Stat!

Dr. Isidore Latham is an excellent surgeon who trains Dr. Connor Rhodes in the area of cardiothoracic surgery, although he is not always particularly fond of him. Newcomer Dr. Ava Bekker arrived at the outset of Season 3. Watch out Robin: This spunky, forceful, ambitious doc may be out to steal Connor’s heart—and, if not that, at least his patients (and patience).

Finally, tough and experienced former charge nurse Sharon Goodwin now serves as Chief of Services for Chicago Med. And current charge nurse Maggie Lockwood runs a tight ship; any miscreants who raise a ruckus in her ER will have to deal with her.

Grit, grime and gore in the ER

Chicago Med may not be quite as saucy and provocative as we’ve seen in medical shows such as Grey’s Anatomy (a series that has outlived most of its patients by now). But that’s not to say Chicago Med receives a clean bill of health.

Language issues are our first pathogen here, including “d–n,” “a–” and an occasional s-word (in the uncensored version we streamed on Hulu). With regard to sexual content, we hear verbal allusions to it, see couples kissing and occasionally glimpse scantily clad women in lingerie.

Perhaps more problematic, albeit in a different category, is how graphic this show is. The ER can be a bloody, gruesome place, and the camera spares little when it comes to showing us people’s injuries as well as giving us a front-row seat for wince-inducing surgical procedures. To top it off, the show also deals with tough, real-world issues, such as rape, assisted suicide, schizophrenia and drug use.

So even if it’s not as salacious as some of its peers, Chicago Med can still be a pretty messy way to spend an evening.

Episode Reviews

Feb. 27, 2019: “Old Flames, New Sparks”

Connor finds a woman almost frozen to death in the snow, even as he wonders whether to move on from his relationship with a pediatrician named Natalie. A boy with leukemia needs a bone marrow transplant, and his parents say they’ve bred his little brother to be the perfect donor (making for an ethical dilemma for doctors Ethan and April). CeCe Charles, Dr. Daniel Charles’ first ex-wife and Robin’s mother, has cancer and a heart condition, and she has to fix the latter before she’ll qualify for an experimental cancer treatment. There’s just one problem: Fixing her heart will require a risky operation, and she might not survive it.

The woman who was nearly frozen to death was found wearing just her lacy nightgown, and she had an enormous amount of alcohol in her system. (Connor originally suspects that someone gave her a “date rape” drug, a suspicion that ultimately proves to be unfounded.) We learn that she was stalking her ex-wife and that woman’s new girlfriend. One of frozen woman’s hands—a bloody mess of decaying tissue—is severely affected by frostbite, and doctors say they’ll need to remove all five of her fingers.

We see a woman in surgery: Her chest cavity is open to reveal a beating, bloody heart. (These scenes showcasing the heart are long and graphic.) The boy with leukemia vomits on the hospital floor (which we don’t see, but hear), and his parents say he was throwing up earlier, too. We learn that he’s done fighting the disease, and that he stopped taking his cancer medication some time ago.

A man and woman kiss after dinner, and we see glasses of wine nearby. April, who used to date Ethan, advises him to take an orchid and a bottle of whiskey when he visits his new girlfriends’ parents. Characters say “d–n,” “h—” and misuse God’s name about five times. Doctors bicker and insult each other. We hear people speculate about same-sex relationships and affairs.

Chicago Med: Nov. 17, 2017 “Trust Your Gut”

Drama, both relational and situational, fills this episode. Dr. Rhodes continues to deal with Robin’s “hyper” tendencies (including hyper-sexuality and hyper-anxiety, according to those trying to diagnose and help her), which causes stress at home and tension at the hospital. Dr. Latham and Dr. Bekker continue to question Rhodes’s judgement as they perform cardiothoracic surgery on a patient.

Meanwhile, Dr. Charles and Sarah Reese grapple with a patient who believes he has something inside of him. They’re initially convinced that he’s delusional, a mindset that’s either caused by drugs or schizophrenia. But after he cuts himself open with a pen! lo and behold they can see that there is something unusual growing in his abdomen.

April is pulled by familial obligations to take care of her brother, Dr. Noah Sexton. For his part, Dr. Choi is concerned that April enables her brother; but he soon learns there is a difference between offering “a crutch and a helping hand” when he encounters a patient who needs help getting clean. Elsewhere, Maggie decides to trust an ex-boyfriend who was previously unfaithful. He insists that he is “not the same guy anymore.”

Another storyline deals with two doctors tending to a brain-damaged female patient on the verge of death. The woman’s brother and parents arrive at the hospital to see her, and it quickly becomes apparent that the parents favor their daughter when they call their son a “worthless drug addict.” Later, as Dr. Manning and Dr. Choi determine the cause of death to be genetic, the parents ask for their son’s forgiveness, as he carries the same genetic disorder that has caused him to be ill and self-medicate his entire life.

Two surgeries, one involving intestines and the other involving a heart operation, are drenched in graphic blood and gore. We hear references to drug addiction and methamphetamine. One scene shows doctors and nurses at a bar ordering a martini and beer. Profanity in this episode includes “h—” and “d–mit.”

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Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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