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COLUMN: Goodbye, good doctor, and good job

In this week's Everything King, Wendy bids fond farewell to television's Good Doctor and praises how the show handled main character's autism
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In my experience as a television viewer, it's not often a program grabs you by the heart and won’t let go.

It happened to me with Good Doctor.

After seven seasons, the medical drama comes to an end.

At the time of this writing, the series finale has not yet aired, so don’t worry about any spoilers.

I tend to get very invested in certain shows, so for the finale I will be on the edge of my seat, wringing my hands, likely weeping and repeating the main character's mantra during karaoke: "Tequila stat!"

Good Doctor followed the story of medical student Shaun Murphy, who was both autistic and had savant syndrome as he faced challenges with his social awkwardness in a big-city hospital.

For better or worse, I will admit that almost everything I have learned about people on the spectrum came from this show.

Clearly, the character was high-functioning, but still was affected by bright lights, loud noise and ambient sounds.

Imagine the trauma working in a hospital setting being bombarded by all the sounds all the time.

Actor Freddie Highmore did an amazing job portraying the internal struggles while making his way through medical school. He barely needed words because his eyes said it all.

At some point, it becomes obvious he is brilliant and has a way of seeing unique ways of handing difficult medical cases.

Still, his overly direct bedside manner makes for both drama and comedy.

“You are morbidly obese and will likely die.” (OK, well, that lays it out.)

I thought the show did a great job of portraying very unusual and interesting medical conditions and, at the same time, introducing us to the main cast of characters.

The writers also did not shy away from difficult topics, handling homophobia, drug addiction, homelessness and corporate greed in the health-care system.

Ripping straight from the headlines, they killed off a much-beloved regular cast member at the hands of a violent antisemitic group.

I always got the message, but didn’t feel preached to. Many programs deal with the hard topics, but sometimes it feels like they are trying to clobber you on the head with their point of view.

In some episodes of Good Doctor, there were things that didn’t make sense to me. I never quite understood how the main character was so uncomfortable with touch, but seemed fine with his wife and baby. Yet, in other settings, he still hesitates to physically connect.

The need for routine was also fascinating. He woke up at the same time each day, went through the same hygiene habits, pretty much ate the same foods (pancakes for breakfast and a green apple for lunch) and if his day was thrown off it caused issues.

In the story line, Shaun’s best friend/mentor/father figure is Dr. Aaron Glassman and it will be their scenes together which will most stick with me as a viewer. Unconditional yet tough love. Their goodbye will definitely be the hardest.

Will the finale give us the happy endings we want for this group? I am guessing not.

I have a gut feeling there will me some death, some heartbreak and some celebration.

Why? Because that is most like true life.

I didn’t want it to end and there were online petitions asking the creators to keep going. Maybe they got the memo from the show business gods: “Always leave ‘em wanting more.”

Highmore, who is British, lives in England with his new wife. I assume, after seven years, the commute to Vancouver was taking a toll.

Highmore was quoted as saying: “If, in some small way, we’ve been able to help challenge stereotypes surrounding autism, that would certainly be the thing that I’m most proud of.”

Good job, good doctor, and goodbye.

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About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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