Spoilers ahead for Episode 7 of Chicago Med Season 8, called “The Clothes Make the Man… Or Do They?”
There is no shortage of medical dramas on television, with every major network except for CBS airing at least one, and two on both NBC and ABC. That said, with the fall TV season approaching its end, I’m ready to say that NBC’s Chicago Med is beating the competition in one key way: the real-life issue of hospital supply shortages.
While New Amsterdam, Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Doctor, and The Resident have all dealt with their share of crises this year (including some shortages), Med is the only one that has made those shortages into a serialized storyline that has been affecting the doctors and patients ever since the beginning of the current eighth season.
In “The Clothes Make the Man… Or Do They?” on November 9, the latest problem that they had to deal with was the hospital running out of clean scrubs and surgical gowns, which meant that almost everybody (other than Ethan and Archer as the former Navy officers who washed their scrubs themselves every night) was working in the clothes they came to work in.
Even worse, Will and Hannah had to wear hazmat suits for a c-section, which were bothersome enough on their own that they didn’t even realize until too late that their discomfort during the surgery was because they’d been exposed to drugs. Goodwin insisted that elective surgeries needed to be postponed until they got clean scrubs and hospital gowns, while the man who controlled the money didn’t view it as a crisis.
The day was saved at the end of the hour when Jack Dayton used his money and influence to get the needed supplies to the hospital, but as Goodwin noted, that wasn’t a good plan for business, and it was just the latest crisis that they only just managed to overcome.
It was thanks to Jack not too long ago that they were able to jerry rig a device to save a life when they didn’t have the equipment they needed, and Will and Vanessa (who left the show last week) bought drugs off of a street dealer when the pharmacy couldn’t give them what their patient needed. Earlier in the season, there wasn’t enough dye to go around to run some necessary tests. (You can find the earlier episodes of Season 8 streaming with a Peacock Premium subscription.)
While the real-life supply shortages may not be quite as dramatic as how Chicago Med has handled them, the show didn’t just address them once as a Very Special Episode or include them in the background as a minor inconvenience. The shortages add an urgency to the stories and reveal more about the characters as they struggle with how to do their jobs. The other medical dramas in primetime are perfectly fine this season, but missing a running thread like what Med has been doing.
Only time will tell if the show continues to deal with the shortages as Season 8 continues. Med will say goodbye to Brian Tee as Ethan before the end of the year (and this episode revealed that his off-screen relationship with April is going well), but there are more questions than answers about what else will happen. Keep tuning in to NBC for Chicago Med on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET, and check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule to start planning ahead for the new year.
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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