Red Band Society- First Look (TV Review)

Everyone has two stories: the one they want you to hear and they one they don’t.–Charlie

Within the opening vignette of FOX’s premiere of Red Band Society, I’m hooked. I’m talking belly laughs…and a deep perspective on life that makes sense when you consider that no one wants to be in the hospital, and often, they’re facing their biggest fears, often death. Often the humor reserved for mortuaries, prisons, and… pastor support groups.

And our semi-omniscient, comatose narrator, Charlie (Griffin Gluck), has us set up to recognize that what we’re about to see and hear is only half the truth about what is really going on inside the hearts and minds of the kids and physicians/nurses working in a pediatric ward, not limited to angry/stuck-up, popular girl Kara (Zoe Levin), bulimic and edgy Emma (Ciara Bravo), and stuck between them, cool-and-experienced Leo (Charlie Rowe).

Life is full of black holes- we can all fall in at any time.–Nurse Jackson

The seemingly most jaded character (so far) is Nurse Jackson (Octavia Spencer) who delivers this pithy warning to one of her charges. It’s the only nice thing we hear her say because she’s been hardened by the suffering she’s seen… Or at least we’ll assume until we learn otherwise.

It’s true though, right? We all get lost sometimes, and we can’t always see the potholes, or black holes, and we need someone to point them out if they’re able. Thankfully, the kids in this ward have Nurse Jackson, even if they aren’t always thankful, and even if they don’t always know how much she cares.

When you’re in a hospital trying to get better, the most important part of you that needs to survive is you.–Charlie

As I’ve provided pastoral care to people in hospitals, I’ve seen patients treated like they were their condition by friends and family. It’s like they lost their identity outside of being sick. Sure, what the kids are going through is serious, but the sickness isn’t all they are. We often get stuck in parts of our lives where we think our mistakes or our sin or our situation or are job is what we are. But these kids, and our lives, are waaaaaay more complicated.

If no was in my vocabulary, why would I be asking you to say yes?–Jordi

One of the more enterprising new patients, Jordi (Nolan Sotillo), checks himself in and comes after the doctor who he thinks can fix him, Dave Annable’s Dr. Jack McAndrew, a kindhearted McSteamy-ish lead. Jordi’s determination earns him a spot– and I found myself thinking that his approach was a lot like prayer. In fact, there’s the story Jesus tells about a persistent widow and a judge where she refuses to give up and he finally gives in (Luke 18:1-8). I’m not saying that there’ll be a pro-God treatment in this show, but the way Jordi’s heart and asking with no hope of a yes for a yes end up working? Yeah, I think we should pray more.

Overall, Red Band Society proves to be worth a second watch, to see where they take this. Charlie is right, life doesn’t end by entering a hospital – but too often we think we can’t make it past the crisis we’re facing. Hopefully, this show will let us learn a little bit about ourselves.

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About Jacob Sahms

I'm searching for hope in the midst of the storms, raising a family, pastoring a church, writing on faith and film, rooting for the Red Sox, and sleeping occasionally. Find me at ChristianCinema.com, Cinapse.co, and the brand new ScreenFish.net.
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