Culture > Television


Television | Bawdy humor + formula-driven comedy = Emmy nominee

Issue: "Exit strategies," Aug. 5, 2006

A doctor who daydreams during surgery and severs the wrong artery? Another who would rather let a patient suffer than admit ignorance? Those don't seem like laughing matters, but Scrubs (NBC, Tuesdays, 9 p.m. ET) is a "Best Comedy Series" contender at the Aug. 27 Emmy awards.

The secret of Scrubs' success is that medical aspects of the show aren't important. The characters could as easily be construction workers, lawyers, taxi drivers, or teachers without affecting their chemistry. Unlike "disease of the week" shows, in Scrubs the glibly and thinly outlined hospital scenarios mostly highlight the inner thoughts and outer relationships between characters.

In that sense, Scrubs is traditional TV comedy: A workplace "family" massacres each other with wit, sarcasm, and character assassination. The characters squabble in Seinfeld-like plots about "nothing" and fight friction within Lou Grant/Mary Tyler Moore situations. The funny dialogue, though, goes along with bawdy humor and frequently unchaste situations.

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