REVIEW: How ‘Emergency: NYC’ reflects our reality

In 2020, “Lenox Hill” aired on Netflix. The show was an immediate hit, as it gave a glimpse at the medical world and its struggles through the eyes of four doctors.

Chloe Patel | Senior Graphic Artist

The show was able to master that tricky balance, illustrating real medical cases while carrying tension through its display of an authentic doctor’s life and their never-ending endeavor to keep people alive.

However, the series failed because of its hyper-focus on the white male doctors who sidelined all the other essential subjects pertinent to the health industry.

With the recent release of “Emergency: NYC,” a new medical docu-series by the same directors as “Lenox Hill,” I expected a continuation of the main character’s stories. But I was pleasantly surprised when I was quickly proven wrong.

“Emergency: NYC,” similar to its preceding show, also rejects sensationalism and opts for an accurate display of the medical realm — difficulties and tragedies included.

But this show did something different: it widened its focal lens to include other hospitals and characters which ultimately allowed for a broader depiction of our reality.

I’ve recently developed an obsession with medical documentaries. I’m intrigued by how directors can take different medical cases and weave them into a cohesive storyline.

But medical documentaries are no easy feat. What differentiates medical documentaries from all others in the same genre is that the former treats real-life medical cases, which often culminate in real-life tragedies.

Consequently, these shows are constantly trying to find the perfect balance between entertainment and authenticity. As an audience, we want to be entertained but not at the expense of too-real families and sick patients.

In “Emergency: NYC,” we get to meet not only the characters tasked with tending patients back to health, but also the ones responsible for transporting the patients. We meet ambulance and helicopter workers and learn how they keep patients alive as they quickly shuffle them to various hospitals.

The series also takes a deep dive into their personal life stories, allowing the characters to talk about their families and outlook on their work.

It is through expanding its scope that “Emergency: NYC” also targets a different goal: reflecting current social issues. The show directly portrays the city it’s inspired by, as well as national hurdles.

The show also displays a problematic but real aspect of hospital life, showcasing how hospitals are often the recipient of the repercussions of faults in our society.

For instance, we meet a patient who arrives as a gunshot wound victim, underscoring present-day gun violence. We also meet several patients battling car accident wounds, highlighting a rise in reckless driving.

The show gives a name and voice to those whose task it is to pick up the rubble of our crashing world.

By profiling a more comprehensive array of characters and displaying their role in reacting to current societal issues, “Emergency: NYC” accurately reveals the difficulties in their jobs.

The show is not afraid to show the emotional toll of the job from all angles. We see grieving families and hopeless cases, and follow staff members as they navigate these situations.

“Emergency: NYC” rejects any idealized interpretation and chooses an accurate and complete display of the medical world.

It explores how wide the ripples of tragedy strike, moving farther away from the immediate surgeons and doctors, including first responders. It spotlights the results of our societal faults by tapping into real-life issues.

Overall, “Emergency: NYC” nurtures this underlying notion throughout the series: hospitals hold a true record of our societal flaws.


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