In a dramatic first episode, we learn that autistic Dr. Shaun Murphy (Freddie Highmore) is bound for the San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital (with Vancouver, British Columbia standing in for the American city) to start his surgical resident position. An intense rescue at the airport detours his arrival, proving his skill to the hospital board naysayers. His champion and former guardian, hospital president Dr. Aaron Glassman (Richard Schiff), has to vouch for his genius charge, and the struggle to understand Shaun’s perspective is a daily occurrence once he settles into the resident life. Despite this, Shaun’s goal of helping people live full lives fuels him to continue learning and show his exceptional talent as a surgeon.
As a character, Dr. Shaun Murphy examines the human condition and our behaviours, putting abled people’s biases and behaviours under a microscope instead of his neurodiversity. Based on a Korean series of the same name created in 2013, the young doctor must learn how to read people and understand the nuances beyond his autism. Arrogance, politics and egos are at play with his fellow surgeons eager to make a difference, and his growth as a young man in an unforgiving world makes for a heartwarming experience.
In The Good Doctor, we learn about the sensitivities associated with autism and savant syndrome. It’s one way of showing those living with autism can have multi-dimensional relationships and that full lives for the neurodiverse are attainable.