Guest Post: Scrubs

By Adam Cecil

In addition to Adam’s hilarious and distressingly on point pitches, I give you a playlist we have been working on for three and a half years called “Songs released after 2010 that would work well in a Netflix-funded Scrubs reboot.” It is our most horrifying work. You are welcome.

Unrelated, I am moving (neighborhoods, not cities), and I’m trying to get rid of most of my books. Here is a big ol list (price tabs on the bottom). If you live in NYC, I’d love your $$, but also will totally just give them to you for free or cheaper if they are too much. If you live elsewhere and are down to pay for the books and shipping, I will mail them to you and it will still probably be cheaper than getting them elsewhere. Reply to this or email me at jamiebeckenstein at gmail dot com or DM @james0ctober on Twitter.

Four pitches for the inevitable Scrubs reboot

Scrubs is my comfort sitcom. The way that some turn to The Office or Friends, I turn to Scrubs. I have seen the show enough times at this point that I do not laugh. If I'm lucky, I chuckle, or at least crack a smile—but as anyone who has a comfort sitcom knows, it's less about the jokes and more about spending twenty minutes with friends who don't know you exist.

Given that it's a sitcom that was produced and concluded before the streaming era, a Scrubs reboot or revival feels inevitable at this point. After revivals of everything from Roseanne to Frasier to Full House, and the Friends reunion special seemingly being one of the top three reasons to subscribe to HBO Max, is there any sitcom that is safe from a tepid retread at this point? With the supposed success of main cast members Zach Braff and Donald Faison's re-watch podcast, Fake Doctors, Real Friends, the groundwork for a Scrubs revival has been properly laid.

Scrubs aired from 2001 to 2010, and like other media from the era, many elements of the showhave not aged well. Most notably, three episodes featuring blackface were removed from Hulu last summer. Creator Bill Lawrence, discussing the removal, said that he felt the show had a "free pass" to do blackface because the show was "diverse" in front of and behind the camera. (These comments came from an appearance on an episode of Fake Doctors, Real Friends, natch.)

Sure, the show was diverse compared to Friends or Seinfeld, with people of color in primary roles—specifically Donald Faison as Chris Turk, best friend to Zach Braff’s J.D., and Judy Reyes as Carla Espinosa, Turk's girlfriend and eventual wife. While their non-whiteness is not ignored, it is rarely mined for anything particularly insightful. There is also a deeply rooted homophobia and obsession with masculinity, explored through J.D. and Turk's close friendship and J.D.'s tense relationship with his mentor Dr. Cox. And, of course, there's a sprinkle of transphobic jokes made throughout, sneaking up when you least expect them.

With a few notable exceptions, the show stays away from specific political issues or making any kind of strong judgement, which makes me curious how the show would deal with our hyper-politicized era. I can’t help but think that the team would want to dive in and engage with the issues, but with a Scrubs-ian twist. To help guide the show while staying true to its core self, I would like to throw my hat in the ring for a writer spot on the Scrubs revival when it does finally enter production. Bill Lawrence, please consider the below my application:

PITCH: The hospital is torn apart after the January 6th attack on the capital, with pro-insurrection Republicans (Elliot, Dr. Mickhead) and the anti-insurrection Democrats (Turk, Dr. Cox) prioritizing arguing over their patients' care. J.D., not knowing enough to have an opinion, spends all day reading Twitter and laughing at memes. The hospital staff reunite after watching a loving liberal wife care for her dying, MAGA-hat wearing husband.

Inspired by: Season 6, Episode 7: “His Story IV," a.k.a. the one where everyone fights over the Iraq War.

PITCH: There's a #MeToo reckoning at Sacred Heart, after an intern files an HR report after an attending pages her for sex. Elliot is forced to reconsider her past relationship with Keith, which started as a booty call. J.D. and Turk put on a sketch show about consent, which only makes things worse. The Todd is fired.

Inspired by: Season 5, Episode 11: "My Buddy's Booty," the episode where J.D. and Elliot pick interns to sleep with.

PITCH: J.D. is surprised when he sees Dr. Cox in a campaign ad, endorsing an anti-Medicare-for-All candidate. Dr. Cox reveals that he's worried Medicare for All would reduce how much money the hospital could take in, and that the hospital would have to close if it passed. J.D. likes Bernie because he reminds him of his grandfather. They agree to disagree when they bond over committing some insurance fraud for a patient on a Bronze Obamacare plan.

Inspired by: Consistent discussions of health insurance, and the patients who don't have it. Characters are constantly skirting the rules to get patients care, even when they're not covered. But the show never really discusses a solution, and Sacred Heart is a for-profit institution, after all.

PITCH: J.D. and Turk's “Guy Love" is strained when J.D. is too afraid to go to a Black Lives Matter protest. Turk gives a passionate speech about how, even if J.D. sees himself and Turk as the same, that's not the case for the police. The camera lingers on J.D.’s face as he takes this in, zooming out slowly while a Joshua Radin song plays. J.D. makes it up to Turk by reading White Fragility.

Inspired by: Season 1, Episode 8: “My Fifteen Minutes,” the episode where Turk gets frustrated after being portrayed as a "black doctor hero" in Sacred Heart advertising, but more so by the lack of any storylines discussing race beyond surface-level stereotypes.

There are more where this came from. Bill, Zach, Donald—give me a ring and let me put my BFA to good use.

Adam Cecil is a podcast producer and writer. Find him on Twitter or subscribe to his newsletter Night Water for more writing.

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