Will Chicago Med change storytelling due to coronavirus pandemic?

CHICAGO MED -- "I Can't Imagine the Future" Episode 509 -- Pictured: Torrey DeVitto as Dr. Natalie Manning -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC)
CHICAGO MED -- "I Can't Imagine the Future" Episode 509 -- Pictured: Torrey DeVitto as Dr. Natalie Manning -- (Photo by: Elizabeth Sisson/NBC) /

Will Chicago Med season 6 change because of coronavirus pandemic?

Whenever Chicago Med premieres, the series will be looking at a new normal. The coronavirus pandemic has continued to affect the world since it cut season 5 short in April, and TV medical dramas now have to decide if current events will play a role in their fictional worlds.

At the ATX Television Festival earlier this month, New Amsterdam executive producer Peter Horton spoke about how that NBC medical show is considering the COVID-19 situation.

New Amsterdam Medical Center is based on Bellevue Hospital, so Horton pointed out that “we are telling stories from the very epicenter of the situation we find ourselves in.”

Added star Ryan Eggold, who plays the show’s main character Dr. Max Goodwin, “There is the opportunity with this story and this character to show what good leadership might look like, and the best way to tackle issues that might help everyone.”

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Will Chicago Med acknowledge coronavirus in season 6?

Chicago Med is in a different situation, because it’s not based on any real hospital, and it’s set in Chicago instead of New York.

However, Illinois had its own significant coronavirus issues. The state had some of the most stringent stay-at-home restrictions in the United States, and has reported over 130,000 coronavirus cases. Cook County, which includes Chicago, was in Phase 3 of the state’s re-opening plan as of June 16.

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So there’s certainly material for a story here if the writers choose to incorporate current events into their timeline. That’s a possibility since the show is regularly inspired by real medical cases, and there’s no bigger medical story right now than this.

They may also choose to keep the show separate from what’s been happening. Many TV shows don’t incorporate or sometimes even mention actual events, choosing instead to keep their world entirely fictional. Both approaches have their pros and cons, so there’s no right answer here.

Will Chicago Med change its storytelling because of coronavirus?

The bigger issue facing Chicago Med is not if it’s going to do a coronavirus-inspired plot or episode. It’s whether or not the pandemic, and the increased spotlight on medical professionals, will end up making the producers change the direction of the show.

Medical professionals, particularly those who work in an emergency department like the ED seen on Med, have always been respected. But now we’re emphasizing that they’re heroes, and hearing stories almost every day of the tremendous sacrifices they’re making and the good works they’re doing.

Conversely, while the doctors and nurses on Med are promoted as heroes in uplifting promo spots, the last season depicted some very unprofessional behavior. It also focused significantly more on the characters’ personal problems than their life-saving and life-changing work.

Fans have already been voicing their concern about the show’s medical ethics and the lack of consequences for the characters’ behavior. Scenes like doctors fighting in full public view and nurses forging signatures need to be reined in anyway if viewers are supposed to believe that Chicago Med is a realistic hospital.

But especially after everything that’s happened with COVID-19, do audiences want to see nurses and doctors who behave that way? Who seem to be distracted by their relationships when they’re treating patients? TV viewers are more aware now than ever before of what real medical heroes do, and what they go through, and what we’ve been seeing on the show is very different.

Whether the writers make use of the pandemic or not, they need to seize upon this as a chance to change their depiction of the hospital and the people in it. This is a great time to tell more stories that honor the profession—which Chicago Med has done so well in past seasons—and get back to the “medical” in “medical drama.”

The show can shine in season 6 with storytelling that is, if not timely, at least true to the spirit of what it means to work in the medical profession. It can celebrate doctors, nurses and the people they help, and become incredibly relevant while still being immensely entertaining. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the path it takes.

Next. What's next for April on Chicago Med?. dark

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