Lifetime can call “Women Docs” a “reality series” if it wants to (which it does), but it’s not one given the common use of the phrase. This is a documentary, which seems to have become a bad word in commercial television. That’s regrettable; while “Women Docs” offers nothing we haven’t seen many times before, it at least reminds folks that they can appear on television without eating rats. Of course, they won’t win any money, but they also leave with their dignity intact.
The initial installment of “Women Docs” follows four female physicians at St. Vincent’s in New York who work in different fields of medicine and come from different backgrounds.
There’s the chief of cardiology at one of the St. Vincent’s hospitals, Niki Kantrowitz, a fast-talking specialist whose father was a respected doctor. There’s the energetic and likable Po Ching Fong, who immigrated from Hong Kong with her family at age four and is now an ob-gyn in Chinatown. Susan Lovelle is a former dancer who’s one of only two dozen African-American plastic surgeons in the country. We see each of these three doctors deal with a patient or two, with the hour focusing primarily on a single case.
The most compelling is a premature newborn who’s treated by neonatologist Mary Marron. The baby, born three months early, is a natural for the camera, and Marron frets over her continuously, telling us along the way that she used to be a nurse and that she worries that her three children won’t understand why she spends so much time helping other kids instead of being with them. “It all seems so easy in Working Mother magazine,” she says.
The hour goes by fairly quickly and painlessly, with nothing especially dramatic happening and no changes to the doctors’ lives. Nobody gets voted out of the profession or is forced to face their deepest fear. But maybe calling it “reality TV” will draw a few young girls who will be inspired to pursue the career they see portrayed.