×

TV Review: ‘The Resident’ on Fox

A pessimistic view of modern healthcare stars Matt Czuchry as a renegade doctor and Bruce Greenwood as his corrupt boss

With:
Matt Czuchry, Emily VanCamp, Manish Dayal, Moran Atias, Merrin Dungey, Shaunette Renée Wilson. With Melina Kanakaredes and Bruce Greenwood.

Fox’s latest attempt at a fresh medical drama, “The Resident,” is a surprisingly cynical look at human nature and corporatized healthcare. That’s a refreshing, dark underside to what is otherwise a pretty run-of-the-mill story: Handsome young professionals, dramatic medical emergencies, and feverish hookups in empty exam rooms. Cary Agos — I mean, Matt Czuchry — plays lead Conrad Hawkins, a third-year rock-star resident who in the premiere episode is assigned first-year, fresh-faced newbie Devon Pravesh (Manish Dayal). Conrad is a great doctor, but he’s no fun to hang out with: He’s brash, peremptory, and borderline chauvinist, suffused with the god complex that make doctors so much fun to be around. Devon pretty much immediately has a bad time of it.

But in what seems to be a signature part of “The Resident’s” ethos, Devon isn’t exactly lovable, either: He’s sporting an expensive gold watch on his first day, complaining about Conrad, and shamelessly schmoozing by the bedside of a sick patient when he runs into a senior physician in the hospital. “Grey’s Anatomy,” the most successful currently airing medical drama, positioned its young interns as crippled by their own passion to save lives. In “The Resident,” the practice of medicine is secondary to the interpersonal and economic demands of the day.

As a result, “The Resident” is one of the most negative views of modern healthcare we’ve got — I mean, besides any trip to your local general hospital. In the first rather gruesome scene, chief surgeon Randolph Bell (Bruce Greenwood, deliciously smarmy) botches a routine appendectomy; the team goes from taking selfies by the operating table to being drenched with the dying patient’s blood. On the spot, Bell constructs a plausible explanation to cover up his mistake. He’s the boss, and the most decorated surgeon at the hospital; what he says, goes. Bell is the kind of preening ego that writes “anonymous” reviews of his own handiwork to boost his profile, and in the second episode “Independence Day,” he redirects a transplant heart slated for a long-suffering patient to an idiot politician who got shot in a hunting accident. He’s despicable, but his strategy isn’t without sense: The hospital needs to make money to survive, and the best way to do that is to avoid scandal and court the wealthy. It’s what every business would do — except of course when a hospital does it, it’s lives that get lost in the shuffle.

Only Conrad seems immune to the structure of power and money around him, and that is the show’s biggest flaw. Czuchry is an engaging actor, but his character’s personality never makes sense. The audience is just supposed to accept that he’s the good guy, without fully understanding what he did to earn that title. Sure, Conrad is generous and giving with his patients; sure, he wears a hoodie around the hospital instead of a white coat and drives a motorcycle, which is all meant to signify that he is a “rebel.” But he’s also pestering his ex-girlfriend Nic (Emily VanCamp) to get back together with him, long after she’s expressed disinterest, and hazing his intern Devon with jokes about either his education or his ethnicity. If it’s supposed to read charming, it doesn’t; he just seems awful. Fortunately, by the second episode, he’s less needlessly provocative, which suggests movement in the right direction. But the confusion around Conrad feels like some of the broader confusion of the show; it aims to be cynical, but it still needs an idealistic core for the audience to root for. It’s smart that “The Resident” seeks to disrupt TV’s pleasant fantasies of healthcare in America — and in the show we see one of the most frank discussions of how profit-seeking degrades patient care. But it needs a stronger, broader ensemble. When everyone is terrible, it’s hard to care.

TV Review: 'The Resident' on Fox

Drama, 14 episodes (2 reviewed): Fox. Premiere debuts on Sun. Jan. 21, after the NFC Championship Game. Remaining episodes to air Mondays at 9 p.m. 60 min.

Crew: Executive producers, Todd Harthan, Amy Holden Jones

Cast: Matt Czuchry, Emily VanCamp, Manish Dayal, Moran Atias, Merrin Dungey, Shaunette Renée Wilson. With Melina Kanakaredes and Bruce Greenwood.

More TV

  • Red Arrow Studios Boss James Baker

    Red Arrow Studios Boss James Baker Says Flexibility, Not Size, Is Key

    The goalposts have shifted for international production and distribution groups, says James Baker, president of Red Arrow Studios. “The old notion that size is everything is changing,” Baker, a former exec at Sky and Al Gore’s Current TV, tells Variety. “It’s now much more how flexible can you be to respond to a change in [...]

  • Borussia Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre,

    International TV Newswire: Streaming Sports, Gen Z on Power, Dutch Detectives & More

    In this week’s International TV Newswire, catch up on Amazon’s soccer push, Gen Z’s thoughts on power structures, DAZN’s newest acquisitions in Europe, a rebooted detective drama in Amsterdam, A+E Networks executive shake-up in Asia and a new international animation alliance between Mondo TV Group and German upstart Toon2Tango. Amazon Picks up Another Soccer Docu-Series: [...]

  • Pinewood Studios James Bond

    Netflix's Shepperton Studios Deal Is Stretching the U.K.'s Production Limits

    Netflix’s huge new hub at Shepperton Studios outside London is a further fillip for Britain’s booming production sector. Amid jitters over Brexit and its effects on the economy, the streaming giant’s commitment is a vote of confidence in the U.K. entertainment industry and a continuing source of local jobs. But the decision by Netflix to [...]

  • BBC ITV BritBox Streaming

    BritBox to Roll Out in the U.K. in Fourth Quarter

    British broadcasters the BBC and ITV have formally agreed to launch their joint streaming service, BritBox, in the U.K. in the fourth quarter of 2019. It will be priced at £5.99 per month, making it the same price as the cheapest Netflix subscription in the U.K. ITV will control BritBox, holding a 90% stake. The [...]

  • Kamala Harris

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris Face Rematch in Next Democratic Debate

    Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris will have the opportunity to square off again in the second debate among Democratic hopefuls vying for their party’s nomination in the 2020 presidential election CNN, which will broadcast the next round of debates on July 30 and 31, televised a draw Thursday night that decided [...]

  • Jon Wax

    Jon Wax Joins Amazon Studios as Head of Genre Programming

    YouTube’s head of scripted programming Jon Wax is joining Amazon Studios as its head of genre programming, Variety has learned. Wax will take up the position recently vacated by Sharon Tal Yguado. He had joined YouTube in August 2017, heading up drama, unscripted and current programming for YouTube’s premium channel. Prior to that, he had [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content