Red Band Society captures hearts during network premiere

Kylie Kvam

On Wednesday, Sept. 17, Fox debuted Red Band Society, a TV show about six teenagers who become friends while living and attending school at the Ocean Park Hospital.

Dr. McAndrew (Dave Annable) rolls Jordi (Nolan Sotillo) to the operating room in preparation for Jordi’s leg amputation during the first episode of Fox's new show Red Band Society.
Dr. McAndrew (Dave Annable) rolls Jordi (Nolan Sotillo) to the operating room in preparation for Jordi’s leg amputation during the first episode of Fox’s new show Red Band Society.

Red Band Society is directed by Margaret Nagle and produced by Steven Spielberg.The show focuses on the importance of the friendships formed between the teenagers at the hospital and the hope that motivates them to fight through their life-threatening medical conditions.

Despite an endearing plotline that features kids helping kids, the show has some major flaws.

Too many characters are introduced in the pilot episode, making it hard to keep track of who’s who. First, viewers are introduced to Kara (Zoe Levin), the stereotypical head cheerleader who is admitted to Ocean Park after fainting during cheer practice. At Ocean Park she meets Charlie (Griffin Gluck), a young boy in a coma who stars as her roommate and the narrator of the show. Next she meets the book-smart anorexic girl, Emma Chota (Ciara Bravo).

Kara then goes on to meet Leo Roth (Charlie Rowe), the amputee and the ‘leader’ of the group, and Leo’s best friend Dash Hosney (Astro), who suffers from cystic fibrosis.

The social dynamics of the hospital changes when Jordi Palacios (Nolan Sotillo) arrives to the hospital in search of one of the best pediatric surgical oncologists in the country, Dr. Jack McAndrew (Dave Annable).

Within one inspiring monologue, Jordi is able to convince the ruggedly handsome McAndrew to take him on as a patient. The conversation seemed completely unrealistic, yet they decide to amputate one of his legs in order to remove his osteosarcoma.

The mother figure in the show, Nurse Jackson (Octavia Spencer), is a noteworthy asset to the cast with her funny and snarky remarks, but she lacks sufficient character development in the first episode. She supervises the teenagers in the hospital, but is only seen in the show for brief moments, and unlike the rest of the characters, she is introduced without a backstory. If her character doesn’t soon develop into a lead role, this show will be a waste of her Oscar-winning abilities.

Of course, no dramedy is complete without a romantic storyline. During a school-time scene, it is revealed that Emma and Leo have a steamy yet cheesy on-again-off-again relationship, and in one scene they are shown in a flashback hiding and kissing in a supply closet. As a viewer, I can only hope this incident leads to some kind of messy love triangle between the teens at the hospital.

There are some unrealistic features of the show that detract from the cute storyline. The hospital amenities appear to be too luxurious to be real, with rooms the size of massive master bedrooms and extremely lavish furnishing.

The unrealistic capabilities of the narrator, Charlie, prove to be the biggest turn off from the show. Charlie is in a coma, yet he can hear and comment on everything that goes on in the hospital from his bed, even if he isn’t in the room for that scene.

After a reality check, Red Band Society could become one of Fox’s top fall dramedies. The show airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on Fox.