I don't know better people than these doctors!
June 10, 2020
COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
If you've exhausted every available episode of Grey's Anatomy, I have your next marathon right here: Lenox Hill, Netflix's new reality series about real doctors, real hospitals, and some very real drama. It takes place in one hospital, specifically—the Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan's Upper East Side (with a branch in Greenwich Village)—and spotlights four doctors: two brain surgeons (John Boockvar and David Langer), an ob-gyn resident (Amanda Little-Richardson), and an emergency room physician (Mirtha Macri). The conceit of the show is simple but effective: Watch a day in the life of each of these doctors. We learn the specifics of their cases, see their breakthroughs, and witness private phone calls with their partners and children. Mirtha and Amanda were both pregnant at the time of shooting, so we see those storylines, as well.
That boilerplate is pretty similar to Grey's Anatomy, when you think about it. Both shows spotlight doctors doing incredible work, but there's nothing clinical about either of them. The emotional notes on Grey's Anatomy are just as potent as the medical ones, if not more so, and that's the case for Lenox Hill too. Seeing Amanda having a difficult conversation with her ob-gyn about her own pregnancy is just as moving as watching her help deliver a baby. Likewise, catching a glimpse of John planning a family party on the phone with his wife is equally as thrilling as seeing him make breakthroughs in cancer research. I may be alone on that one—but doctors, in my opinion, are the closest things to superheroes that we have. And seeing a superhero talk about a Sunday barbecue feels bizarre.
"This series humanizes physicians and allows people to see the hard work, dedication, passion, and sacrifice we give to our jobs—not for money, but because we genuinely want to help people," Dr. Little-Richardson said in a statement.
Lenox Hill does an excellent job at capturing just how superhero-y these doctors really are. Whether it's Dr. Langer performing a complicated tumor removal on a 28-year-old patient or Dr. Macri seeing dozens of E.R. patients in one night on very little sleep, the weight of their work is not lost on viewers. For medical-philes alone, this show is going to tick a lot of boxes. You get up close and personal with a lot of medical jargon and graphic imagery. (That being said: Squeamish people, beware.)
But the medicine component of Lenox Hill is not what I latched onto. I found myself thinking about the superb bedside manner of the doctors. This isn't something that should be heralded as superhero-like—it should be the standard for all doctors—but it's worth mentioning because so many people have had bad experiences. I certainly have. As a plus-size person, I've been fat-shamed by doctors more times than I can count. I've walked into an appointment to discuss a sore throat and all of a sudden we're talking about my diet. When I finally found a doctor in New York who actually listened to me and empathized, it felt like a revelation—though it shouldn't have been. Hopefully, the doctors on Lenox Hill set an example. Dr. Macri, in particular, is really great at this; watching how she talks to her patients about drug usage with absolutely no judgment feels particularly poignant. This kind of treatment is what every patient deserves.
Dr. Macri with a patient COURTESY OF NETFLIX © 2020
And right now you deserve to watch this show—it's the catharsis your heart needs. I walked away from the first few episodes teary-eyed and bewildered...not all that different from how I feel after Grey's Anatomy. The medical components are riveting, while the personal stories tugged at my heartstrings. It's the perfect dance, and both components work in tandem. It becomes very clear, very quickly that there's genuine, gooey love underneath these four doctors' cold, clinical medical gloves. That's probably why Netflix made a TV show about them.
"I feel that what happens in our personal lives—how we live and experience things outside of medicine—greatly impacts our work," Dr. Macri said in a statement. "Hopefully, by portraying not only the challenge and hardships faced by patients, the series can highlight how physicians advocate for their patients in a way that promotes mutual trust."
Lenox Hill is now streaming on Netflix.