Why The Good Doctor's Big Break-Up Felt So Real To One Star

The Good Doctor Jasika Nicole Dr. Carly Lever Freddie Highmore Dr. Shaun Murphy ABC
(Image credit: Liane Hentscher / ABC)

Spoilers for February 17’s episode of The Good Doctor are discussed below

Realizing that Shaun (Freddie Highmore) and Lea (Paige Spara) may not be over each other, Carly (Jasika Nicole) made a decision on The Good Doctor. She chose to break up with Shaun, thus ending their romance, which led to a lot of feelings for Carly’s portrayer, Jasika Nicole.

For fans of Shaun/Carly, the dreaded break-up comes after The Good Doctor teased the physical intimacy in store for Shaun and Lea, an omen that was not great for fans of Shaun and Carly’s budding relationship. Upon coming to the conclusion that Shaun and Lea’s feelings were far from finished, Carly ended things with Shaun.

Jasika Nicole learned about the couple's break-up on The Good Doctor well before she had to play it on-screen, but knowing that Carly and Shaun’s relationship was about to end had off-screen consequences for Nicole. The actress has acknowledged that her character’s feelings manifested for her in real life. Reflecting on her feelings beforehand, Nicole told TVLine:

For about two weeks, I was just really sad. I wasn’t motivated to do anything. I was down. And it took me a few days to realize that this is just how it feels when you go through a breakup. I’ve been with my partner for so long that I’m not that familiar with that experience anymore, and I realized that I felt rejected, I felt sad. I said to Freddie, ‘I’m sorry that I’m not in a good mood. I’m sad that we’re breaking up.’ And he was so sweet. I don’t know if this is something that people who aren’t actors would fully understand, but the part of me that is Carly — and there is certainly a part of me that is Carly, because I’m her body and I’m her voice — that part of me felt connected and absolutely enamored with this other character, so it kind of felt, like, ‘You didn’t get the guy. You didn’t get the guy, Carly!’ So that’s what I dealt with. But I’m glad I found out a little bit earlier so I could go through the emotions. But then when it came time to film it, everything came flooding back.

This makes total sense to me. I often think about the varying emotions that come for an actor playing a character in different situations, and having to deal with your character enduring a break-up has to be tough. Plus, there is the issue of knowing in advance. In her case, though, Jasika Nicole felt happy about knowing ahead of time.

It gave her some time to sift through it. What did she think of the break-up scene? Jasika Nicole shared her feelings on the scene and said she was pleased with how things went down, especially with regard to who broke up with whom. Reflecting on Carly and Shaun's relationship-ending scene, Nicole said:

They wrote it so beautifully, and it actually felt kind of nice to know that Shaun wasn’t breaking up with Carly, which would have made me feel more rejected. She could see what was going on. I felt… proud of her. She’s such a smart, intuitive, emotionally intelligent character. . . . It’s complicated, because Carly doesn’t really give him much of a choice in the situation. I think that’s why it feels so powerful that she’s the one to say, ‘You know what, I don’t think this is going to work.’ I think that there are other things at play here, and even in the episode after, after the breakup, they’re kind of picking up the pieces… I think that they both learned a lot from this relationship, and that is the most that we can ever hope [for].

It sounds like Shaun and Carly will still be working through their break-up in the next episode of The Good Doctor, which will be a stark juxtaposition for the one-time couple. Season 3 started out on an eventful note for the eventual couple. In the end, though, his feelings for Lea proved to be a breaking point.

Based on what Jasika Nicole is saying, Carly and Shaun will be moving forward in their lives, having learned a lot from their relationship. Does the seeming finality of Carly’s decision mean the definitive end of them as a couple? Time will tell.

If you are upset about this break-up on The Good Doctor, I bet you are not alone. I know that I have gotten down from watching my favorite TV couple break-up. I cannot imagine having to actually play it like Jasika Nicole did.

New episodes of The Good Doctor air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC. You can watch Freddie Highmore on Bates Motel via Netflix alongside 2020 content. If you are caught up on The Good Doctor and have binged Bates Motel, you can check out this winter and spring’s premieres.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.