On the DorothyL digest, a mailing list for mystery fans, someone wrote:
Someone said they couldn’t watch Hawaii because they lived there, and someone else said they couldn’t watch CSI because of all the mistakes.
That’s how I feel about medical shows. First, it’s too much like being at work. Second, none of them get it right. That includes ER and especially Diagnosis Murder. I spend too much time yelling at the TV, and don’t enjoy it. I can’t do the “suspension of reality” thing with medical shows. So I gave up watching them, and watch the shows with subject matters that I don’t have a background in.
I hear this complaint a lot… so I decided to reply, and here’s what I said:
It doesn’t bug me that characters on TV can always get a parking space on a busy street, right in front of where they are going… or that buildings identified as “Police Headquarters” or “Community General Hospital” are actually something else in real life…or that a street a character drives down in a chase doesn’t actually intersect with the next street we see the car on… those are simply the realities of creating a fictional reality… of using the “real world” as stage.
As for the medical, legal, and forensic gaffes in shows like Diagnosis Murder, Missing, and Hunter (to name a few shows I’ve been associated with), there are lots of reasons. One, sometimes reality doesn’t work for the demands of telling a compelling, fast-moving story in 46 minutes (do you really want to wait weeks for DNA on “CSI”? Or doesn’t it make more sense for story-telling purposes to get it in 10 seconds?). Two, we aren’t doctors, FBI agents, or cops… nor are we writing/producing documentaries… errors of fact are inevitable. And three, accuracy isn’t our priority… entertainment is. It’s all make-believe anyway. As long as you are entertained, does it really matter? We always make up things that don’t exist in fiction… and sometimes where reality and fiction collide, there are errors. I shrug most of them off.