The Good Doctor is an American medical drama based on a critically acclaimed South Korean series of the same name from 2013.
Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore, Bates Hotel), exhibits his abilities to a skeptical hospital staff, even though he shouldn’t have to because they’re just terribly narrow-minded. In every episode, Shaun proves why he is so intelligent despite having autism and savant syndrome.
In The Good Doctor, we observe Shaun Murphy, a young surgeon with savant syndrome and autism, as he takes a job at the famous and highly regarded San Jose St. Bonaventure Institution. In the pilot, the hospital’s board is split on whether or not to hire him since some members are worried that he won’t be able to provide the necessary services.
Is The Good Doctor Based on a True Story?
Hawaii Five-O star Daniel Dae Kim wanted to acquire the rights to the series after witnessing a similar drama on South Korean television. Another main character on that show was an autistic doctor who, despite his colleagues’ inability to understand his communication difficulties, was determined to make a name for himself in the medical field.
Daniel said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter back in 2014 that it was the perfect time to pull ideas from Korean TV, saying “It’s all about the timing and confluence of different events: K-pop is bigger than ever, there is awareness in the U.S. of an international market, there is interest in intellectual property such as basing TV and film on books and foreign content.”
The tweet below shows a chip of The Good Doctor:
i haven't watched the good doctor but this clip is unintentionally hilarious pic.twitter.com/jQCCaqDun4
— strAubrey 🍓 (@shawalliam) May 9, 2023
According to Daniel, “There’s something that Korean TV does that no other country does—the way they portray heartbreak and melodrama,” which inspired him to use this technique in his adaptation of The Good Doctor. I think there’s a place for something influenced by Korean TV in the American market, where serialized dramas are more common since I think strong material can bridge cultural divides.
However, unlike the American version, the South Korean adaptation of The Good Doctor is not based on a factual story.
Shaun’s Condition, Savant Syndrome, is Real Though
The show’s premise isn’t grounded in reality, but Shaun’s illness is quite real. Savant syndrome is a condition where a person with another neurological illness, such as autism, possesses outstanding talents in one or more areas, most frequently memory. Because of this, Shaun has an almost photographic memory, which makes him a brilliant doctor but a less-than-stellar communicator.
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Patients with savant syndrome only have their memory impaired; other neuro-atypical symptoms, such as difficulties communicating or extreme sensitivity to stimuli, are unaffected.
And while Shaun’s actor, Freddie Highmore, isn’t autistic himself, the program does consult with many people on the spectrum and has autistic actors appear as guests in an effort to make the characters as believable and non-offensive as possible.
The show has been praised for its realism in depicting Shaun’s illness.
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