Way back in my very first review of The Good Doctor, I wrote about my son, a college freshman with high-functioning autism. He never watches the show with me, though; he says it’s too predictable. “She” was one of those more predictable episodes, trotting out a few tropes while also making statements about sexuality and reproductive choices.
Do we really have to go here?
This episode introduces a new medical resident, Dr. Morgan Resnick, who moves to Melendez’s team after the reassignment of Dr. Creepy Coyle. We don’t get any sense of whether she is relieved to be away from a serial sexual harasser, but we do learn very quickly that she’s only a team player as far as it benefits her. This medical Machiavelli wants to be sure she is one of the two residents who will stay on at the hospital after the year is up. When she is teamed with Claire to treat a teacher with a super-bug, she lets Claire know they will not be friends, telling her, “Every time you win, I lose.” But she also makes it clear she’s not going to oppose Shaun because he is Glassman’s golden boy, and she’s not going to bother opposing Jared because of his post-lawsuit pariah status. As far as Resnick is concerned, Claire is the only threat.
It’s the old trope of pitting women against each other, and it was something you could see coming a mile away, despite the attempt in the promos to make it seem Resnick would be opposing Shaun. It’s disappointing to see after previous episodes where Claire and Dr. Lim worked so well together. It’s disappointing in an era when women are banding together and supporting each other.
After #TimesUp, this kind of catfighting feels remarkably tone-deaf.
Speaking of tone-deaf
Shaun has a hard time with his patient in this episode, a transgender girl named Quinn. Shaun cannot quite wrap his mind around the idea of a person who presents biologically as a boy wanting to be something different. For the most part, this manifests as Shaun repeatedly referring to Quinn as “he,” despite being reminded by Melendez and Jared to call her “she.”
But while Shaun is having trouble understanding Quinn, he does make an effort to do so, asking questions and finally seeming to understand when Quinn says being able to present as a girl makes her feel free.
Shaun makes more of an effort than Quinn’s grandmother, who does not want to accept that Quinn does not want to be a boy or to have children. Grandma was also predictable, right down to her threat to file child abuse charges against Quinn’s parents.
Quinn’s story is itself an important one to be told, and that was handled movingly and with respect for the struggles transgender children face: parents who don’t understand, bullying at school, suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide. As they usually do, the writers avoided preachiness on the subject, but also made it clear there is nothing wrong with being transgender.
Choices about children
Grandma’s main objection to Quinn’s desire to have both testicles removed was the loss of fertility; Quinn would never be able to have children of her own. I could get into a long discussion here about how we, as parents and grandparents, do NOT get to make decisions about whether our offspring will have offspring of their own.
But instead, I’m going to contrast this with another of the stories from the episode. We learned something new about Dr. Andrews: He and his wife have been trying to have a baby, but not succeeding. News of an irregularity in a test sparks an argument over “fault” because they delayed childbearing. Andrews is, unsurprisingly, a jerk about it.
So it’s a bit of schadenfreude to learn the fertility problem is on HIS end.
But still, it’s a bit too predictable a storyline: Power couple having a problem having a baby.
So what was fresh and new here?
For one thing, the medical procedure used for Claire & Resnick’s patient – something called Fecal Macrobiota Transplant. I won’t get into the details here, but one thing occurred to me as Resnick was giving Claire the rundown for handling the fecal sample that would be transplanted: You don’t want to be a bitch to someone who’s going to be handling poop. You never know where some of it might end up! (Not that Claire went there; she is obviously a better person than I!)
The other new element was Shaun’s new neighbor, Kenny. Not certain I trust him yet. He has a real knack for breaking and entering. Shaun also didn’t seem to be too trusting at first, grabbing onto his toy knife when Kenny first barges through his sliding door. Like Shaun, we’ll have to wait and see about Kenny.
Random notes from the episode
- Transgender care was not part of the medical school curriculum for Shaun or Jared. I suspect that’s only too common.
- “Talk and listen and try to understand each other.” Always good advice, no matter what the situation.
- Grandma doesn’t think she can ever accept Quinn being a girl, and knows it makes her sound horrible. Yes, it does. But at least you understand that it does and maybe that’s a first step to eventual acceptance.
- I felt very sad for Glassman when Shaun rejected his offer of a ride home, because “you said you can’t be my friend.” And what made it sadder was Glassman’s cryptic statement that he knows what it’s like not to put family first. “Is it really worth sacrificing a life with someone I love over an idea that may never be?” he asks. So what did Glassman sacrifice? There are four episodes left in the season for us to find out.
The Good Doctor airs Monday nights at 10/9 Central on ABC.