Friday, March 27, 2009

[Scrubs]

Hello readers of My TV. My name is Lauren and I am the newest writer to join this fabulous blog. Please enjoy my first post.

After having an Office marathon with my friend, I needed a new show to obsess over. Only having watched a couple episodes of Scrubs here and there, I decided to catch up on seasons 1-7, while watching season 8 as it aired on ABC. Suffice to say I completely adore Scrubs.

Yes, Scrubs is about a hospital. And, yes it’s about JD, Turk and Elliot's experiences while working within the hospital's system. But, the meat of the show is the relationships that are formed. The heart of the show comes not from JD's voice-overs at the beginning and the end of the episodes, but from the friendships, partnerships, and companionships that are created. There are countless relationships that could be analyzed, but I have chosen my Top-10.

1. JD and Turk: This may be my favourite TV friendship of all time. It is my favourite because of the love that radiates from it. JD and Turk survived medical school together and now they are there to help each other survive their residencies at Sacred Heart. There are a few things about this friendship that I absolutely love: the nicknames, the pranks, and the honesty. 

Chocolate Bear and Vanilla Bear: their nicknames are based on their races, but other than the nicknames, their races never affect their friendship. Many times there are jokes about why Turk has a harder life than JD, and the first response is "Is it because I'm black?" and JD always responds with, "No, It's because you're diabetic. What's hard about being black?" I love it. I love that they recognize that they are different, but that never never never affects how they treat each other.

The Pranks: always entertaining. Despite being best friends, JD and Turk always pull pranks on each other. There's the "fat daddy" prank, the "Suck it, Bitch" prank, and the countless pranks involving JD's brother. They also pull pranks on different members of the staff, especially Hooch. I love that they do not take themselves too seriously; they find time through all the death and personal trouble to have fun. They rejuvenate one another. And whenever one of them tries to pull "we're adults, now" the other reminds them that that line of logic is insane. They will always be the two buffoons who are trying to joke around all the time.

The Honesty: JD and Turk know each well enough and love each other enough that they do not hold back. When JD thinks about getting back together with Kim, Turk tells him that he shouldn’t; and this honesty does not upset JD at all. When Turk is flirting with his ex-girlfriend after getting married to Carla, JD calls him on it; JD is not quick to take Turk's side if he is wrong. When JD questions Turk's ability on a surgery, it really bothers Turk because JD's opinion is the only opinion he cares about. At times, they are the only ones that can reach each other.

This relationship is so incredibly touching. It defies all conventions of the TV male best friendship. They don't talk about sports- in fact, JD does not even know who Michael Jordan is. That is not what's important in their friendship. They love one another, which is really all that matters.

2. Carla and JD: The reason that I chose this relationship as one of the top ten is because of what Carla and JD offer each other. JD is the new doctor. Carla is the nurse that has been working at Sacred Heart for 8 years. JD is the one who has to navigate a new system, and Carla is the one who knows the system. They fit. They work. And occasionally, JD insults Carla and questions her knowledge because she did not go to college, and their friendship falters, but they never falter to their point of no return—they always learn from each other. Another comical side to this friendship is that JD is Carla's gossip buddy.

However, this relationship is not just about Carla and JD, it also becomes about Turk. Carla is the third wheel in the JD-Turk team. What I like about this is that Carla never insists that Turk has to choose one relationship over the other; she understands that JD and Turk share a special bond that is indescribable. She recognizes that JD and Turk complement each other, and to question their bond is to question the foundation of Turk.

Carla is also JD's savior. She protects him from those in the hospital who insist that he is a fool. At times, this aggravates JD- but he really is thankful. When JD goes through his emotional breakdown in season 6, Carla is the one who organizes his friends to help him. She cares for JD's mental sanity because she recognizes his importance in the hospital. If not for Carla, JD would have failed many times. She is his savior. And it’s truly heartwarming.

3. JD and Elliot: In the beginning, I wasn’t sure how to respond to Elliot: is she the goody two shoes from Connecticut? The insecure “Barbie”? Out for her own gain? Or, is she just as confused as JD is? As Elliot evolves, we see that she is more neurotic than we could have expected; and it’s that neurotic behavior that influences everything that she does. Despite this, JD and the audience can’t help but find her charming. The two soon become incredibly close and help each other to survive the murky waters of Sacred Heart. Elliot is the girl that JD shares a beer and pizza with after work—and the platonic feelings that JD has for Elliot grow into something more.

Now, we might expect that because these two understand each other so well that in a romantic relationship, they would flourish. But, JD and Elliot are too immature to understand that in a relationship, you need to compromise. It is interesting to watch these two try and fail, because they do it more than once. As I watched JD and Elliot break up, I generally felt that Elliot always got more upset with JD than JD did with Elliot. Elliot always asks for space and JD always obliges—and that is why these two are able to return to their friendship. JD does not allow his ego to interfere because he wants to save their friendship, which is endearing.

When Carla and Turk finally kick JD out, Elliot is the one to take him in. As I watched this, I was curious to see how it would turn out, seeing as these two once used to sleep together. It works, but why? It has to be that JD and Elliot have both grown from their past failed relationships. And when they have a new boyfriend or girlfriend, they help each other avoid the pitfalls that usually plague their relationships. It is clear that these two really value each other’s friendship because they confront one another when they are messing up—and, where others make fun of JD and Elliot, they never make fun of each other.

4. Carla and Turk: Turk is a surgeon—an accepted boy’s club. Carla is head nurse and a Type-A personality. Turk is laid back and Carla is tightly wound. Turk minds his own business, whereas Carla is sure to tell anyone when he or she needs to fix something. However, when these two begin to date, they bring out the best in each other. Carla encourages Turk to study medicine, and Turk encourages Carla not to gossip as much. As their relationship grows, they avoid the petty games that JD often plays with his girlfriends. They challenge each other to grow as a person.

After getting married and working through their first major struggle, they decide to have a baby. At different moments along the way, they both have their freak-outs. They both think that they will be inadequate parents, but then they talk it out and calm each other down. They are the ideal companionship. After she has her baby, Carla experiences postpartum depression. Turk is the one to encourage therapy. When Carla wants another baby, Turk is honest with her and lets her know that he is not ready, especially after the difficulties with the first baby.

They are a charming couple. They communicate with one another and Carla is never threatened by Turk's relationship with JD. I want my husband to be like Turk, and I hope that my marriage is something like Carla and Turk's; they  work through things together and they love one another, what more could you ask?

5. JD and the Janitor: It is accepted that the Janitor is crazy, everyone agrees. Yet he holds a great deal of power. It is also accepted that JD is a well-liked doctor by all of his patients. The funny thing though is the relationship between the two of these characters. The Janitor pulls pranks on JD all the time and JD is rarely able to pull a prank on the Janitor. I think what makes this relationship work is that JD has done nothing to deserve the maltreatment—however, it deservedly humbles him. As JD's ego grows, the Janitor is there to let him know that he can be fooled. Another aspect of this relationship that adds to the hilarity is that JD always hopes that he and the Janitor can be friends—and that hope is always smashed. But JD maintains his hope, and the Janitor takes advantage of it all the time! Despite the silly pranks, JD and the Janitor do respect each other and they refuse to let their relationship get in the way of helping patients.

6. JD and Dr. Cox: Dr. Cox is a narcissist who cannot stand JD. In fact, Dr. Cox refuses to call JD by his real name, instead calling him every female name under the sun. And yet, these two help each other in their darkest hours: it is only JD who can bring Dr. Cox back from his downward spiral when he was responsible for three deaths in a day; and it is Dr. Cox who brings back JD when he cannot process his father’s death. Perry Cox and John Dorian are perfect foils: Dr. Cox teaches JD how to grow up and become the doctor he is capable of being, and JD teaches Dr. Cox compassion and that a new dog can learn new tricks. They are completely dependent on each other.

Dr. Cox also represents a father figure to JD. And although Dr. Cox claims he despises it, he truly does love that JD needs him. Dr. Cox loves that JD holds him in high esteem because if he did not like it, he would switch residents; he certainly wouldn’t dole out advice when JD acts immaturely, nor would he make such an effort to insult him. Dr. Cox does these things because he knows JD will be back the next day. 

7. Dr. Cox and Bob Kelso: Who has two thumbs and doesn’t give a crap? Bob Kelso. And that is how he runs Sacred Heart. Now, compare this attitude with Dr. Cox, who treats the patients that he deems worthy with the utmost care, despite the fact they may not have health insurance. Why do these two work so well? It is because of their inherent juxtaposition: through the fa├žade of Dr. Cox’s narcissism, we see that he cares for his patients, and we see that Dr. Kelso sacrifices himself for the hospital. Despite the dichotomy, Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso are more or less the same: they are both lonely, they both have weird relationships with their wives, they both care way too much about themselves, and they both care about Sacred Heart. Nevertheless, they are both to pig-headed to acknowledge this, and thus they create a hilarious dynamic.


8. Ted and the Janitor: Now, I couldn’t decide between Dr. Kelso’s relationship with Ted or the Janitor’s relationship with Ted, but in the end, I deemed Ted and the Janitor’s relationship more noteworthy. Ted and the Janitor are the least respected staff members at Sacred Heart; Dr. Kelso treats Ted as his gofer, and the Janitor is generally ignored or laughed at. Nonetheless, the Janitor does wield a great deal of power- he is the one who successfully arranges for the support staff to get dental coverage. Unlike the Janitor, Ted holds no power at all. He merely walks around the hospital hoping to be offed or for someone to off Dr. Kelso. However, when these two form their friendship, something special happens. The Janitor teaches Ted how to stand up for himself and say no to Kelso, while at the same time taking advantage of Ted's willingness to say 'yes.' I feel bad for Ted because everyone ignores him, except the Janitor. It is the reversal of power that makes this relationship comical. One would expect the Janitor to walk around feeling hopeless about life like Ted does, but instead his attitude is "I'm a winner." And Ted, who holds the hospital's reputation in his hands, does nothing with that. Hilarious.

9. Dr. Perry Cox and Jordan: This relationship is funny by itself, but it is the pairing with Turk's and Carla's relationship that makes it HILARIOUS! Perry and Jordan are estranged ex-spouses in the first seasons, but as the show progresses, they have a baby and challenge the preconceived notion of a relationship. They somehow manage to turn their hatred for one another into appreciation and learn to see the positives that they each bring to their partnership. Perry and Jordan live on their own terms, rejecting expectations. Instead of asking Jordan to marry him again, Perry asks her to continue to be his ex-wife. They do not care what others think of them and they know what works for their relationship. Through their bickering, the love that they have for each other shines through. Perry gives in and is the first to call Jordan when she is at her mom's house, thus losing their bet; and Jordan has no qualms about using her pull with the board to promote Perry.

We have the example of the 'ideal' couple in Turk and Carla, and we have the anti-couple in Perry and Jordan; Perry and Jordan make fun of this all the time. They recognize that they are not the norm and they make no apologies for it. They mock Turk and Carla (as in "My Princess" when Perry turns Turk and Carla into the double headed witch). Perry and Jordan's relationship offers the alternative- an alternative that still works. Yet, in both of these partnerships, you cannot question the essential fact that Turk loves Carla and that Perry loves Jordan.

10. Carla and Elliot: This friendship had the most volatile start. Elliot is the "Chicana" from Connecticut and Carla is the Dominican from Chicago. Clearly, Carla has had the more obviously difficult upbringing. Both Carla and Elliot judge each other from the beginning, which causes strife. However, as Elliot starts to understand that not everyone has had the same advantages growing up, she starts to understand why Carla finds her annoying; and, as Carla starts to understand that money does not guarantee an easy life, she starts to understand why Elliot is insane. Elliot grew up with emotionally abusive parents, and that affects the person she is. The blossoming of their friendship is so subtle, that they do not even notice it. They overcome their rough beginning to become best friends. Carla becomes the person in Elliot's life that sets her straight when her neurosis goes into overdrive. She is also able to talk Elliot through her engagement. And, most importantly, Carla understands why Elliot is so neurotic and does not try to change that. Elliot is the person that Carla can have a glass of wine with and unwind. Elliot supports Carla without even asking why.

Scrubs' charm radiates from the multitude of relationships that exist on the show. No one relationship is perfect, but each dynamic has wonderful qualities. These relationships add to the comedy of the show and they are what keep you coming back for more.

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