Shedding Light On An Important Show

Shaun Murphy, played by Freddie Highmore, caring for a patient at St. Bonaventure Hospital. Photo couretsey to

Being underestimated, belittled, bullied and more all your life would cause anybody to believe they weren’t important. Shaun Murphy, on the other hand, fights against the prejudices he’s faced his entire life. He shows everyone around him that he is worthy of love and respect and he deserves to be treated like a human being.

The Good Doctor is a medical drama series set in California. Freddie Highmore plays Shaun Murphy, a surgical resident who lives with autism and savant syndrome. He moves from a small, quiet town in Wyoming to the busy city of San Jose, California.

Shaun dealt with a troubled childhood. His parents didn’t understand his condition and his father bullied him because of his own ignorance. Shaun and his younger brother, Steve, run away from home which leads to Steve suffering a fatal fall off a train and dying. Before running away, Shaun’s father throws his pet rabbit against the wall,killing him. Because of the deaths he witnessed, he decided to become a surgeon to save people the hurt he felt as a kid.

The president of the hospital, Dr. Glassman, mentors Shaun throughout his childhood. He recognizes Shaun’s talents and knows he could be an outstanding addition to St. Bonaventure Hospital. He pleads to the hospital board to allow Shaun to work there. Many doubt Shaun because of his disabilities.

On the way to the hospital, an airport sign falls and injures a child. Shaun steps in and stabilizes the boy using improvised methods and tools and his unique ability to visualize the body, internally. This proves to the board that Shaun is more than capable to work as a surgeon.

His first couple of weeks at the hospital don’t go as anticipated. His fellow surgeons underestimate him and have him doing “scut work” which is a low-level form of medical work. He sees patients in the ER and does small things like stitches. He eventually proves to his colleagues that he has what it takes to be in the operating room.

Autism is a disorder that makes things like social interaction and communication difficult. Specifically for Shaun, he speaks his mind. He doesn’t lie or even sugarcoat things for his patients. He’s very persistent when he makes diagnoses even if he’s wrong, although it’s very rare that he is. He doesn’t feel empathy which can make it hard for him to relate to his patients.

Shaun also has savant syndrome. This is a condition in which a person who already suffers a mental disability, demonstrates certain abilities far beyond average. Some examples are rapid calculation, map making and other similar abilities. For Murphy, he has memorized paragraphs from his medical textbooks and can look at a body part and visualize exactly what’s underneath the skin. This, in combination with other things, makes Murphy an excellent part of the surgical team at St. Bonaventure.

One reason this show is such a huge hit is the representation it presents. Representation in the media is how the media portrays certain groups. Disabled people and other minority groups are poorly represented in the shows and movies. People with disabilities are usually portrayed as helpless and used for pity in media. This gives off the notion that disabled people can’t live alone or exist without a caretaker. Although some disabled people do need to live with others, that shouldn’t be the only way they’re seen on shows.

The Good Doctor portrays Shaun and eventually other disabled people in a realistic light. It displays Murphy going through hardships and not being accepted which is very much real in the world. It also conveys Shaun living alone, having a job and making friendships. The show gives a lifelike view of how it actually is living with autism.

The Good Doctor is important because it doesn’t limit what disabled people can and cannot do. It leads the way for other productions to positively represent disabilities and shows younger kids who are disabled that they can amount to more than what society tells them.

The Good Doctor is currently in its second season and airs on ABC every Monday at 9 pm and is also available on Hulu and Amazon Prime.