Every once in a while, we all need a little nerd out moment that’s generally entertaining, light hearted, and just fun to read. We hope this is one of those kinds of posts. Today, we cover some of the popularly recognized scenes and productions in entertainment that feature a PT… the good, the bad, and the ugly — sometimes… a 3-in-1.
Oh… and… SPOILERS AHEAD.
Seriously… you’ve been warned.
Having a complex and less well known healthcare profession shown to be accurately and favorably represented in entertainment media is kind of a tall order. You can’t make everyone happy. That said, maybe there’s some truth to the saying, “there’s no such thing as bad press.” Maybe??? Possibly????? We shall see. SO, with that said, we’ve had some moments in the limelight as an industry
Just as recently as this current TV season on “New Amsterdam,” a Physical Therapist is prominently featured (though, perhaps not in the most professional of ways) — in a relationship development that is shall we say… is an interesting side arc. Nevertheless, one should appreciate the titular representation of the Physical Therapist casted — and, for the ridiculous line: “Range of motion is suddenly improving.” PS. Did anyone notice the character is Dr. Zach Ligon? *wink wink* … I’m pretty sure we can say, the DPT label has stuck.
“Physical Therapy” has also been mentioned in “The Resident,” proving true in some form regarding their casting call back in 2017 — this all happened in a scene when Matt Czuchry playing protagonist Dr. Conrad Hawkins, asks a colleague for an injection, but was shot down (#DadJoke) by his colleague in deference to Physical Therapy and pain as the body’s warning signal. Speaking of “The Resident,” actor Miles Gaston Villanueva of the same show, playing Dr. Alec Shaw, also portrayed a Physical Therapist in the episode Doors and Windows on “The Fosters.”
Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul
Physical Therapy was also front and center during a story arc on the acclaimed show “Breaking Bad,” and was even loosely mentioned in its spin-off series “Better Call Saul.”
“You can’t really market ‘murderball’ to corporate sponsors.” Wheelchair rugby. Gritty athletes. Physical Therapists. What else do you need to know?
Warm Spring (2005)
This HBO production centers on the treatment of polio for future president Franklin Roosevelt. Combining the talents of stars like Gilderoy Lockhart, Miranda Hobbes, and Buster Scruggs — sorry, sorry… that’s Kenneth Branagh, Cynthia Nixon, and Tim Blake Nelson — this piece portrays Roosevelt through the struggles of physical rehabilitation as part of his narrative in becoming one of the most respected national leaders in recent history.
Just Wright (2010)
Otherwise a mostly positive leaning depiction of the profession, this production revolves around a romantic comedy starring Queen Latifah, a Physical Therapist who gets to work her dream job of rehabbing a famous athlete. Of course, that’s about as far as the “physical therapy” is shown as the film spins into the usual romcom shenanigans.
THE BAD & THE UGLY
So, here’s the bad news. The bad news is that there is certainly a portion of PT on TV that isn’t exactly… … favorable. The situation was an addressed Quora topic to which the general, “no one movie or TV show” really represents Physical Therapists in an accurate fashion was posted.
This part is short… but, still so much cringe.
On the silver screen, perhaps a more recently known production has experienced a fair amount of backlash on the title “Me Before You.” There were multiple articles and responses upon release of the film — most widely circulated was the ‘I’m not a thing to be pitied’: the disability backlash against Me Before You, article.
In sitcoms, we have less than great (and, that’s being more than generous) scenes from Seinfeld and from According to Jim — watch at your own risk.
Nominal representation is found in movies such as Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford, where a shooting victim relearns mobility, speech, and life at large. By proxy, our Occupational Therapy colleagues found some representation in a recent’ish production with Matt Damon titled “Downsizing.”
All together, it’s fair to say that professional representation and image has otherwise been going in a favorable direction. Producers and writers regard Physical Therapists by their professional doctoral title — seen by physician coworkers as colleagues. Certainly, we need a bit more bandwidth to reach the masses as a profession. This is agreed upon through various perspectives — both from the marketing angle as well as the practice manager’s point of view.
Across the profession, everyone seems to want better public awareness of Physical Therapy. And, just in case you haven’t seen it yet, UpDoc Media is independently producing a documentary titled “Hidden Giant” to help push on this front as a short film crafted for public consumption. Speaking of, if you want to be on the early release list, you can SIGN UP HERE and share it with friends and colleagues who need to know more about our industry when it goes live!
I had a few questions about this doc. Here are the answers for those interested…— Gene Shirokobrod (@therapyinsiders) September 8, 2019
1. This is purely an @updocmedia production.
2. There are no sponsors.
3. No one was paid to appear in it.
4. Audience is general population.
5. It will be free.