New Amsterdam is the NBC medical drama which is now available on Amazon Prime. It stars Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist) as the brilliant and charming Dr. Max Goodwin. He also happens to be the new medical director at America's oldest public hospital. Right from the get-go it is clear the direction New Amsterdam is going in. It is about bucking the bureaucracy and prioritising patient care over billing. And Dr. Max Goodwin is just the idealistic man for the job.
A character who's only flaw appears to be caring too much, Goodwin announces his arrival by instantly firing the entire cardiac department. And anybody who cares more about money than patients is welcome to join them. The man is on a mission.
Next up is the hiring of 50 new attendings, which of course ruffles the feathers of the residents. He continues to introducing sweeping measures across the hospital, bringing no end of headaches to the board. But it's all done with the notion that they can be better. The hospital can be better. Everyone can be better.
And yes, while this is worthy and the show does a great job of highlighting real world problems, it's all done in an unrealistic cloud of candyfloss. It is really quite tricky to engage with mostly because it's so hard to believe. Ironically enough it is based on the book Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital by Eric Manheimer. He is the former medical director at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital and New Amsterdam is based on his life. So quite possibly they have taken some dramatic licence with the tv version.
That said, and despite some of the cringy eye-rolling, overly sentimental moments, there is a point to New Amsterdam. The system is broken but not beyond repair. Each episode focuses largely on one case while the rest of the show progresses. Situations such as over-medicating children, vulnerable pregnant young women, mental health issues and the mis-diagnosing of patients due to lack of time, are all real-world problems faced by people every day. And the show does a very good job of tackling them.
The cast is excellent and also includes Janet Montgomery, Freema Agyeman, Jocko Sims, Tyler Labine and Anupam Kher. So what really is my problem with it? It has no grit. It has no bite. It's making a point but in the nicest way possible. Imagine if somebody put an Instagram filter on the medical profession and added a moving backing track and you would get New Amsterdam.