Saturday (December 3, 2022) was International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Coincidentally, today I am watching Hulu and catching up on ABC’s The Good Doctor. I started losing interest in the show when the characters starting experiencing once-in-a-lifetime traumatic events every season. The show seems to have become surgeons trying to save each others’ lives instead of the patients.
The main premise of the show is that Dr. Sean Murphy is on the autism spectrum and uses some special effects to show the audience how his mind works (which reminds me of the early seasons of House MD when they relied on special effects to show what was happening inside the patient, but more bookish).
Sean leads what I think everyone would agree is a normal life. And his journey to fit in and live that normal life is central to the program. Did the creators/writers make him a doctor so that people’s lives rely on him? Or is it to show that this is an amazing use of his unique mind?
SMALL SPOILER AHEAD
Regardless, the writers place his social struggles amid these high stakes events that really don’t depict ordinary life. In the current season, Sean’s supervisor Audrey Lim finds herself lucky to be alive but in a wheelchair. The initial quandary about this is Sean’s role in the surgery that left her paralyzed.
The first couple episode of the season address Lim’s adjustments to life in a chair, and this includes her trying everything she can think of to return to her life as a stellar surgeon at the hospital. And she does. And even while achieving these milestones, she is angry and dealing with disability grief. I would also venture to say that at some points she almost says she’d rather be dead than living this disabled life.
Now I’m on episode 4 or 5 of season 3, and now the team thinks they can find another surgery to cure Lim.
Why does Lim have to be fixed?
Once again, the mainstream media is showing us that disability must be fixed. I was so impressed with Lim’s balance of frustration and determination to regain her prestige as a surgeon. I don’t want to see her fixed.
I guess we’ll see where it goes.
But I also wonder what young people who rely on wheelchairs and other mobility devices would feel if Lim walks again. If a gifted medical professional can’t feel whole and productive without her legs, what does that say about the value of disabled lives? What young person needs to see representation of someone accepting their new abilities?