My Irrational Anger Towards ‘Emily Owens, M.D.’

Photo: Michael Courtney/The CW

By Amy Amatangelo, TV Gal®

Every TV season always brings a slew of new shows I don’t like.  Usually I watch them, decide I don’t like them and move on. It’s not like you are going to hear me talk about Beauty and the Beast or The Mob Doctor again.

But every so often a show comes along that I have a complete irrational anger towards. I hate it with a fervor that doesn’t fit the crime.  The show ticks me off.

A few years ago it happened with that awful CBS show The Ex-List.  And now it has happened again with Emily Owens, M.D., premiering tonight at 9 p.m. on the CW. Mamie Gummer stars as the title character, a recent medical school graduate beginning her internship at Denver Memorial Hospital. Take a moment to conjure up Meredith Grey in the early days of Grey’s Anatomy. Now make Meredith about 10 times more annoying than she was. That’s Emily Owens. From the whiny voice-overs to the insecurities and romantic pining, Emily is a more irritating, exasperating Meredith. The show borrows so much from Grey’s Anatomy (the brilliant heart surgeon all the doctors want to work with, the instant best friend) that Shonda Rhimes should get some sort of consulting producer credit.

I loved Gummer as the duplicitous Nancy Crozier on The Good Wife. It was a great role and she was fantastic in it. But everything that worked for Gummer on The Good Wife is working against her here. The show seems to have forgotten that, unless your Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, viewers need to like and root for the lead character  Emily Owens is grating and unbearable.  (And as a side note, pick a hair color. Be a brunette. Be a blond. Just pick one. The only person who can get away with dark roots on blond hair is Heather Locklear.)

The whole premise of the show is that the hospital is a lot like high school with cliques and mean girls. Cassandra Kopelson (Aja Naomi King) was Emily’s nemesis all through grade school and high school and now –what a coincidence – they work at the same hospital. What are the odds? Cassandra instantly activates Emily’s old nickname and proceeds to try to make Emily miserable. I was kind of on Cassandra’s side.

The CW is like an old studio system. The network continually picks the same actors for its shows. They get a bee in their bonnet about someone and they won’t let go (Katie Cassidy will be a star. She will!) Justin Hartley (Oliver Queen on Smallville) co-stars as Emily’s med school crush Will Collins. Michael Rady (Melrose Place) is the experienced and kind resident willing to help Emily out. I like both actors and they both deserve a better project. The series immediately puts an interesting spin on the unrequited crush story line and it might have worked too if I hadn’t been thinking “Run, Will, run and don’t look back. Whatever you do don’t get together with Emily.”

In addition to the annoying lead character, the show is way too familiar. It doesn’t just imitate Grey’s Anatomy, it imitates every single medical show that has preceded it. In the episode that airs next week, you will be able to guess immediately how the two main medical cases will proceed.

But my real problem with the show is that I’m over it. I’m over these insecure, whiny women that TV is so fond of portraying.  I need more Liz Lemons and less Emily Owens in my TV life. After you watch Emily Owens, M.D. tonight, let me know what you think.