‘Scrubs’: More Than Just A Wacky Comedy?

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I’m not the best when it comes to comedy on TV. Really when it comes down to it, as long as it’s funny, that’s all I care about, make me laugh and it’s all good. Sure, depending on the show, that need some rough through-line of plot or some narrative, but usually I could care less, unless it’s some great vehicle for great laughs. My favourite comedy shows, things like The Office (both versions, but the UK one is one of my favourite shows in any genre) and Parks & Recreation usually have a nice balance of comedy, with a dramatic backbone or driving force, mainly spurned on from the characters rather than plot that helps to give the comedy something to mold around. I also like these shows because the comedy is grounded in reality. Sure, they can be a bit loopy and pushing the boundaries of sensible, but largely makes comedy out of real-life situations. While I appreciate running a good narrative throughout, I also love shows that are literally all jokes, and don’t really care about doing anything serious. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has been doing this for awhile now, and Curb Your Enthusiasm does this as well, but it’s type of comedy (improv/cringe) comes from a different area than “Sunny’s.”

Scrubs is an interesting show, because it tries to do multiple things and ideas of comedy under the same banner. On the one hand, it’s an increasingly silly show, with random jokes, flashbacks, dreams and just really cartoony behaviour. But, along with this, there’s always two main driving forces of “dramatic” narratives or overarching plot, with the following of the doctors career trajectory and their love lifes. Now, over a nine season show, it varied quite a bit where they would put the emphasis on. In the early season, some of my favourites, dealed a lot with J.D. and such coming to grips with the pressures and challenges of being a young doctor and what everything meant. It was a comedy show, but patients actually died, and it wasn’t always fun and games around Sacred Heart. Of course, it’s still all wacky and funny too, and something that would oft be the focus in later seasons, when all the characters romantic entanglements were pretty much set in stone and there wasn’t much of a chase anymore.

Although, I find Scrubs very funny, it’s also very silly, and not entirely my favourite brand of comedy. It’s immature, but not in really in the dick and fart joke variety (although, they are aplenty), but more that it’s seemingly aimed towards a preteen audience in the types of jokes they tell and would’ve seemed insanely suitably to being on Nickelodeon instead. It’s very much a live-action cartoon, with, I guess, it being part of the joke that J.D. and Turk are doctors and surgeons with people’s lives in their hands, all the while being the most immature people on the wayside. Again, I’m only being critical of this because it’s really not my brand of humour and maybe because I’m too old for it (?), I don’t know, but sometimes it was a little much for me.

Even going off that idea of this being a show skewed towards a slighter younger demographic, beyond the comedy there was always a lesson. Not that it was constantly (“after-school special-ish,” although it was known to), J.D. and subsequently us would learn a lesson at the end of each episode, like it’s okay to make mistakes, everybody isn’t always who they seem, trying your best is all you can ask, and countless other things and anecdotes you’ve heard before. That’s why it reminds me of something youth-skewing, by giving you all the silly comedy you love, but pushing that lesson that you should’ve learned in the last two minutes of the episode, because that’s what TV is for, right?

Because of the no-holds barred level of comedy, it really takes a cast who will go full bore on the jokes to completely sell them, a make-or-break element of the show. John C. McGinley is great, really just in general, but also here. He’s an asshole, and demands a lot, and has a stony exterior, but of course he’s a softie at heart who cares about his fellow staff. Ken Jenkins is of the same cloth as McGinley’s Perry, and is equally as great. Donald Faison always has great reactions and is a nice counter-point to J.D. Judy Reyes is probably the weakest member of the cast, not really caring much of the comedic load, she’s not very good at it even when she does get the chance, and is often a nag, but I still like her!!! Neil Flynn is great, in general as well, but you can tell how much fun he’s having as the janitor, and it was kind of a trip watching The Middle before my descent into Scrubs, as it’s a completely different role.

I don’t think it’s just me, but there’s an incredible lack of great female comedic leads and just characters in general. It’s not the actors, I think, but really the parts. I’m not talking about the pay cable varieties of Lena Dunham, Laura Dern, Edie Falco, Laura Linney, Mary Louise Parker and such, they’re all fine and do their thing, but I’m talking about the balls-out “I don’t care about my image, let’s put the joke up front.” Julie Louis-Dreyfus is maybe the greatest example, with all her success, Melissa McCarthy is the go-to lady now, and she’s knocked everything out of the park that I’ve seen. Kaitlin Olson from “Sunny” has been one of my favourite’s for years, never really having a boundary, and being an expert in physical comedy. I think physical comedy is a big measuring stick and something that is not a fluke that all these great women have in common. It’s an example of them going full bore into a joke, not caring about their looks or looking stupid, but just being in service of the joke. Sarah Chalke is another incredible actress of this class, and she’s so fully invested in her role in Scrubs that it’s infectious to how far she’ll go. She’s sometimes played as ditzy, but really just a person who wears her heart on her sleeve and cares about everybody who comes in her path. Often that gets her into certain situations, but no better person to deal with them then Sarah Chalke.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve obviously come to Scrubs late, and had both experienced Zach Braff through his Garden State and the incredibly underrated The Last Kiss. I love both of those films quite a bit, and in great part to Braff’s performance, not really the comedic parts (even though they were good), but the dramatic tendencies and the way he handles so greatly the spirit of a “dramedy” (Ugh. I hate that word and  typing it, but it’s a good descriptor). He’s funny of course in Scrubs, even if he is the most immature and annoying of the cast, but also suffers a great negative that I’m beginning to think is of the actor and not the character. Zach Braff is smug as all shit and a douchebag. I mean, J.D. in Scrubs is smug as all shit and a douchebag. He’s constantly a dick to pretty much everybody in the show, through his various relationships he’s always a douche to the girls, often only thinking of himself and sex. As I said this often gets annoying, but it’s got me to think is this just the character, is it just the characters Braff picks, is it Zach Braff himself, is Zach Braff a douche and thus picks characters that suit him, such as a douche? Now, it’s no secret that a lot of people like Zach Braff, but it seems just as many or more think of him as a dick. Now, I’ve always been team Zach Braff, and I still am, but it’s curious that he’s kind of a dick in everything’s he’s in. Maybe, it’s just that he’s good at it, and so here we are. Anyways Zach Braff is a cool dude, but sometimes his portrayal of J.D. got a little too much in the douchebag and dick department, thus making him annoying and really hard to care about personally as a character.

Hey, so, I guess we should talk about season 9, hahaha, actually no we don’t, but I’m incredibly fascinated with it, so let’s do it. I’m not entirely sure everything behind this, and I’m too lazy to look it up, but something about bringing back the show at the last minute, and having some of the old cast members show up and usher this new generation of interns, all to be finished after 13 episodes. I mean it’s really weird, because it looks like a completely different show, with a new main core, and some OG Scrubs member cameos, but actually kinda, but not really season 9 of the show. Dave Franco’s character was so dumb and made me laugh way too much because he was so stupid, so that’s a plus I guess. The lead girl, who I can’t remember her name, was pretty bad/boring and Eliza Coupe was pretty good/cool and I like Coupe very much. So, that’s what I took from that weirdo thing of season 9.

Scrubs is a fun and very entertaining show, and that’s really the main thing I’ll take from it. I mean, yes, we’ve talk about it’s few dramatic hits and the success they had in that realm, but the comedy was and is always the main part, and it was enjoyable, for the most part. I don’t know how/or if I’ll revisit this show, maybe not, maybe so, there’s a couple stand-out episodes, but nothing that’s entirely drawing on it’s own. If I see it on TV, I could totally see myself flicking it on and having a good time with it, no matter where it is in the run, and I think that’s a great positive for the show, or any.  Put it on, and I’ll probably enjoy watching some part of it. Thanks.

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