ATLANTA - Writers for the FOX hit "The Resident" have spent the past several months hard at work on the show’s fourth season, crafting storylines for the medical series that reflect the real-life drama of the pandemic.
"We wanted to capture this moment," says Eric I. Lu, a writer for the show and graduate of Harvard Medical School. "We wanted to really showcase what was actually happening through the eyes and through the lens of our characters who were going through this. Because we understood that fundamentally, this was a pivotal moment in time."
Lu penned the fourth season’s premiere episode with fellow writer Dr. Daniela Lamas, who also happens to be a pulmonary and critical care doctor in Boston. The show’s writing team decided to set the season in a post-pandemic world with staffers at the fictional Chastain Park Memorial Hospital grappling with the aftermath and devastating effects of COVID-19. Because work on the season began several months ago, Lu says writers were forced to try to imagine where the world would be in 2021.
"We wanted to focus our premiere on COVID — use flashbacks back to March and April when it really peaked, especially in Atlanta where our show takes place — and then, moving forward in the season, while COVID is still in the background, we made the assumption that the vaccine would be present in our medical world," he said.
In writing the season premiere, Lamas was able to draw from her own experience working on the front line of the pandemic, lending authenticity to the struggles of the show’s doctors and nurses.
"I took the last flight pre-COVID on March 7, flew from LA to Boston," Lamas remembers. "There were a couple of people wearing masks on the plane and gloves, and I was not one of them. And then I ended up back in the hospital the 9 of March or so, and I think toward the end of that week … we ended up starting to get our first actual COVID patients, and there was this sort of a growing realization that, ‘Oh, this is real.’"
And that stark reality is something the writers say they take seriously every single day, aware of the delicate balance between entertainment and responsibility.
"Having a number of doctors on staff, it was impossible for us in good faith to say we were going to sort of ‘jump over’ COVID," Lamas says. "So, we made the decision ultimately, in our premiere, to have in a flashback setting a really in-depth look at what our characters had been through during the pandemic. But then also book-end it with hope."
"We have millions of viewers, not just in this country but around the world," adds Lu. "That just makes it incredibly important for us to be responsible to do no harm."
"The Resident" airs Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. on FOX 5 Atlanta.
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