Red Band Society provides humorous, insightful look at hospital life

One of FOX's newest shows, "The Red Band Society," has all the regular characters. Photo Courtesy of Fox

Tori Linville

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One of FOX’s newest shows, “The Red Band Society,” has all the regular characters. The mean girl, the rebel, the girl-next-door, the player and even a new guy – all who can be seen in your run of the mill high school. 

Except the mean girl needs a new heart, the player has cystic fibrosis, the girl next door has an eating disorder and the rebel and new guy both have cancer.  Add Ocean Park Hospital as the “boarding school,” a maternal nurse portrayed by Octavia Spencer, a hot doctor and a hypochondriac hippie, and the story line becomes a new entity. Oh yeah, and it’s narrated by a boy in a coma.

Created by Albert Espinosa after a 14-year stretch of living in a Spanish hospital, the show manages to pull off a bittersweet 45 minutes that keep you interested to see how the story will play out.  Besides the whole “hospital” bit looming around, each character otherwise remains a normal teenager.

The group manages to include the stereotypical high school taboos such as fake I.D.s, joyrides and partying in between surgeries, treatments and English class lectures on Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” Jordi, Leo and Dash (the new guy, the rebel and the player, respectively) create their own world of mischief as they entertain their boredom and downplay, and sometimes take advantage of their situations.  Emma and Kara (the girl next door and the mean girl) both struggle to assert their dominance as the only girls, all while Charlie (coma boy) looks on and comments on what the others do.

Shining in her role as a supporting actress, Octavia Spencer plays the sassy and domineering Nurse Jackson. Her presence overflows with a knowing motherly concern that makes for fun scenes while she interacts with her patients and co-workers.  She is accompanied in her overseeing role by Dr. McAndrew (Dave Annable) who flows in and out of the story as the straight-edge presence who remains in control.

Though the ephemeral moments throughout the story pull heartstrings, they are snapped back to reality by each character’s ability to make quick, sarcastic remarks as they try to seem apathetic about their lives. While the quality is there, it’s hard to not get dragged down by the John Green vibe it takes on as the characters become contemplative about life and their circumstances.  

The hospital, equipped with a school and suites, completely complimenting the characters is a little far-fetched, but it’s easy to get past if you focus on the actual story line.  The most frustrating factor of the show is that the characters could all literally croak at any minute.  So there’s the inner monologue that has to be done with oneself to stay unattached to the characters, in order to maintain sanity.

Regardless of what Espinosa does right or wrong, “The Red Band Society” remains a story that sets out to bring a little bit of hope to the desperate characters it follows and the audience that views it.  

Most of us are drowning in obligations and homework, but the show deserves at least a view of a sneak peek on its website, if nothing else, because at least we’re not hospital-bound.

The Red Band Society airs on FOX, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.