Hospital drama: reassurance, anxiety and the doctor-hero

Rebecca Feasey

in Masculinity and Popular Television

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748627974
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651184 | DOI:
Hospital drama: reassurance, anxiety and the doctor-hero

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In the 1950s, hospital drama was home to morally principled and caring male doctors. However, recently, this image of infallible masculinity has been replaced by less exalted representations of the male. In fact, hospital dramas of today depict a number of doctors who are not only tortured and tormented in their personal and professional lives, but who are actually culpable for the deaths of their patients. This chapter discusses the history of the feminine nurse, the female practitioner and the male doctor-hero on the small screen, from the 1950s to the present day. It introduces the image of the infallible individual doctor in Medic and Emergency-Ward 10, the paternalistic junior–senior doctor relationship in Dr. Kildare and Ben Casey, and the harassed medical team in Casualty and St. Elsewhere. The chapter then examines the tortured and tormented image of the doctor-hero in ER and House, which challenges the saintly image of the doctor-hero and the traditional images of masculinity and the male sex role in society.

Keywords: hospital drama; male doctors; infallible masculinity; feminine nurse; male doctor-hero; female practitioner; ER; House

Chapter.  5824 words. 

Subjects: Television

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