The buzz is alive! NBC’s “new hit” TRAUMA premieres tonight, as I’m sure anyone who visits these pages and others already knows.
Thing is I’m already hearing from my co-workers and others that the show is doomed to fail.
“Looks so fake.” I was told by a fellow watching The Terminator.
“It isn’t like that at all, that’s not an accurate picture of what we do.” Said the woman who adores CSI:Las Vegas.
My point here is that this is not a documentary about EMS, that Project got knocked down, this is TV. A TV show not unlike the one with the yellow family that hasn’t aged in 20 years, or the genius doctor and his merry group of physicians treating the exotic, or perhaps my favorite show about spaceships and people that talk funny.
It’s TV. This is not the Emergency! of our generation, we know that, so lower the bar of expectations a bit my friends.
TV Paramedics never seem to do well for two main reasons.
1. No one wants to watch a show about what we ACTUALLY do. There is no good TV value in watching me help a 45 year old man claiming to have an asthma attack scream about how much I abuse him every week, without a single wheeze. Boring. Funny in the moment, but boring. The magic we on occasion create, when a patient actually responds to a complex treatment is rare and over quickly, mainly because we tend to move quickly to definitive care.
2. They follow the characters home. In my exhaustive 10 minute research on the subject of TV Paramedics, I’ve found that each had a really good chance of succeeding until the story followed them home.
Case in point:
Paramedic Wyatt Cole from TNT’s Saved was a great example of a Paramedic of the 21st Century. Apart from the whole “I graduated Medical School but I hate my father so I work on an ambulance” story line, he was a true caregiver who they showed actually caring. The show was clearly written by someone who worked in the field, since they had smelly regulars and a rival ambulance company pushing unwanted vagrants into their roll area. It was a fun medical show, but the home lives of the characters began to take up more of the show and before you knew it it was less of a Paramedic show and more of a show about a guy who happens to work in EMS.
Law & Order does so well because you know exactly what is going to happen every week. 30 minutes of Police doing amazing police things, a twist, an arrest, and then 30 minutes of lawyering. No homelife BS, no diversions, plain and simple. In the rare cases they do wander home, it’s part of the case.
TV isn’t meant to be real, guys and gals, it is meant to be entertaining. Tonight, when you’re angry that someone did something WAY outside their scope of practice, or says something like, “Don’t you die on me now!” take a deep breath and imagine Motorcop watching reruns of Chips, or Firegeezer watching Rescue Me, don’t get upset if it’s not an accurate portrayal of EMS in the US, heck from what I can tell it’s not even an accurate portrayal of EMS in San Francisco.
TRAUMA is a TV show about Paramedics, not FOR Paramedics. If it was, it would be on the BBC or Discovery Channel and actually ride along with Paramedics. Wait a minute, I swear I’ve seen such a program…
I will be watching it here at the Angry Captain’s place with an open mind and a hope for entertaining television. And even if it fails to make me cheer, I’ll keep watching it because it has helicopters and explosions, which are never a bad thing.