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Off the Map single episiode analyses

Admiring their credentials

Ben Keeton January 12, 2011 -- Tonight's series premiere of ABC's new Shonda Rhimes drama Off the Map introduced the standard complement of seven smart, attractive physician characters saving lives, as the hot senior ones train the hot junior ones. Set at a clinic "somewhere in South America" that seems to be staffed mainly by U.S. physicians, the show does display a little more awareness of global public health issues than Rhimes' other surgeon-centric products. And it occasionally includes pointed criticism of the cultural insensitivity and narrow vision of health care displayed by a couple newly arrived physicians. But clinic boss Ben Keeton (right) was also supposedly the youngest chief of surgery ever at UCLA before starting the clinic, and one of the new physicians gushes that he's "one of the greatest humanitarians of our time." Whatever nuggets the show may include about U.S. arrogance and caring for the poor, the main theme still seems to be U.S. physicians saving native people and tourists, especially in trauma settings. We're not quite sure how to take the premiere's title, "Saved By the Great White Hope." Maybe the show is being ironic, but the show does reflect the basic Rhimes world view that physicians are demi-gods. Every clinical scene features physicians alone providing all skilled care, including lots of care that nurses do in real life. There are no significant nurse characters, and in the premiere, we saw only two notable references to nursing, both damaging, and both involving recently arrived U.S. physician Mina Minard. In one scene, Minard demands epinephrine for a clinic patient who is having an asthma attack, and a local nurse in patterned scrubs fetches and hands it over. Minard grabs the drug, saves the patient, and receives all the credit. In the other scene, Minard complains to a fellow U.S. physician that the other physician is lucky to have a seriously ill patient to care for, because Minard just "handed out Band-Aids today…like a school nurse!" Minard starts to learn that the clinic's less exotic care has value, and she will likely grow in other ways. But we doubt anyone will question the assumption that nurses are low-skilled lackeys who play no important role in health care, whether at elite hospitals or remote clinics--whose foreign health professionals are, incidentally, more likely to be nurses than physicians, as is the case with Medicins Sans Frontieres. The series premiere was written by series creator Jenna Bans. more...


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Snail mail information for the show:

Jenna Bans, Betsy Beers, Shonda Rhimes
Executive Producers, Off the Map
4151 Prospect Ave. 4th Fl.
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Channing Dungey, VP Drama Series
Touchstone Television
500 S. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521

Susan Sewell, VP Media Relations
Touchstone Television
500 S. Buena Vista St.
Burbank, CA 91521




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