Series / Strong Medicine
is a medical drama with a focus on feminist politics, health issues and class conflict, that aired on the Lifetime network from 2000 to 2006. The series was created and produced in part by comedian and activist Whoopi Goldberg, who made a couple of cameos in the series, and Tammy Ader. The series initially starred Janine Turner and Rosa Blasi, however Turner decided to later leave the show and her position was later filled with Patricia Richardson and later Rick Schroeder. Strong Medicine was highest-rated original drama on basic cable in 2001.
Strong Medicine brings together the worlds of two completely different doctors, Dr. Luisa ďLuĒ Delgado (Rosa Blasi), and Dr. Dana Stowe (Janine Turner). Lu is a single mother running a free clinic in the inner-city. Dana is a Harvard graduate and top female health specialist. The two come together when Dr. Lydia Emerson wants to combine Rittenhouse Hospitalís practice with Luís financially failing clinic to provide the best care for the patients of both doctors.
The staff and its visitors tend to be racially, politically, and economically diverse. A core class/political duality in the episodes' storylines tend to be driven by comparisons and contrasts (and often cooperation) between liberal Delgado, and her fellow women's health practitioner across the lobby, who sees paying patients and generally has more conservative values. When Dr. Dana Stowe leaves, Luís partners include Dr. Andy Campbell and Dr. Dylan West. The show often places the characters in ironic, soul-searching situations in which they are forced to question the solidity of their personal beliefs or else cause them to fight for what they believe in
The show has examples of the following tropes.
- Abuse Mistake/Cut Himself Shaving: Dana notices bruises on Dr. Jackson's wife. The woman's vague explanation makes her suspicious. When she's rushed to the hospital a few days later, having "fallen down the stairs", Dana is now certain that Dr. Jackson has been abusing her. . . only for it to turn out that his wife really had fallen. She's an Ill Girl and is developing multiple sclerosis.
- Aesop Amnesia: Every so often, there would be an episode where Lu would learn that not all rich people and/or men were evil, only for her to go right back to hating them the next week.
- Beta Couple: Kayla and Peter.
- Butt Monkey - The Complainer Is Always Wrong: As he dares to be a man and in an administrative position, Dr. Bob Jackson was always given the short end.
- Despite being female, the second trope often applied to Dana and Andy as well, should they dare to disagree with Lu. Dylan actually held his own pretty well, for a while.
- Christmas Cake: Dana. She's mostly okay with still being single, it's her ticking biological clock that bothers her.
- City Mouse/Country Mouse: Lu, who grew up in one of Philadelphia's poorer neighborhoods and has clearly been struggling all her life, now tending to the the people in that very neighborhood vs Dana, who clearly grew up wealthy. When the two are forced to merge their practices so that Lu doesn't lose funding for her inner-city clinic, Dana is initially very uncomfortable dealing with the influx of low-income patients and their related health issues. And then there's Lu's and her pathological hate of people who are richer than she is.
- Cunning Linguist: Andy. Being an Army brat has left her fluent in 6 languages. It pays off when there's a patient that speaks Tagalog (a Filipino language) and she's able to converse with her, and when another patient claims to be French, but her inability to understand Andy reveals that she isn't, just an actress pretending to be.
- Daddy's Girl: Andy. It's very obvious that she took up a military and medical career in order to follow in her father's footsteps.
- Derailing Love Interests: Poor, POOR Leslie. He was a kind House Husband to Andy for several seasons, and then he starts resenting it and abusing her for no reason at all, just so Andy can kick him out and search for "a new boyfriend who validates and appreciates her". And said boyfriend is killed off.) That's what you get for being a Nice Guy in Lifetime and NOT being called Peter, Les.
- As Leslie was originally so likeable and his derailment was so asspullish, even hardcore fans of Lifetime's trademark "man-bad-woman-good" fare called shenanigans—even Lu, the resident Straw Feminist, couldn't believe that he had turned into a wife-beater.
- This inadvertently happened to many of Lu's boyfriends as well to the point of Cartwright Curse. One's a perfectly Nice Guy who freaks out and heads for the hills as soon as he learns she has a kid, another is a spineless Nice Guy who lets his Rich Bitch ex-wife bully him into dumping her by threatening to take away his kid. Another helps her heal from her rape and they're seriously discussing marriage. . .only minutes before he gets shot protecting her. And yet another seems perfect for her, only for things to just fizzle out.
- Dana's boyfriend Nick as well. Actively pursues Dana and clearly adores her and puts to rest her initial qualms over their age difference (she's ten years his senior), as well as the fact that she's his supervisor. For several years, they're blissfully happy—until she starts bringing up marriage and children and he reacts like a scared jackrabbit, prompting her to give him the boot. It's understandable that she wouldn't want to waste time with someone who doesn't have the same goals as she (especially since she's running out of time to have children), but he's made to look a jerk for something that's entirely reasonable on his part (he's only in his late twenties and it's understandable that this isn't his top priority).
- Domestic Abuse: Andy's husband Les slaps her during an argument. Although shocked and horrified, she's reluctant to throw away years of a happy marriage and promises to consider reconciliation if he'll go to counseling. Although he claims to be going, she notes a discrepancy in his story and realizes that he lied to her. His dishonesty is the last straw for her and she files for divorce.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Dylan West has "St. Helens" for Lu; people around the hospital mistake it as an honor, until they hear why he gave it to her: for her tendency to erupt angrily at his sexist musings (it's short for "Mount St. Helens").
- Flanderization: Lu starts out merely having a chip on her shoulder about rich people and being a slight Straw Feminist. Understandable, as she grew up in a poor neighborhood and frequently saw—and still sees in her medical practice—the end results of that poverty, such as violence, drug abuse, teen pregnancies (of which her son is a result), domestic abuse, etc. But by the series end, both traits are completely out of control, to the point where EVERY episode was guaranteed a scene of her screaming her head off about the social injustice of the week and the evils of the rich people and/or men perpetuating it.
- Gender Flip: The shows was noted by at least one person as having a lot of gender-flipped dynamics common on medical shows, especially regarding Peter, since he was the good-looking, motorcycle riding male Hello, Nurse! surrounded by smart, distinguished female doctors, instead of the more typical reversal.
- Also, Andy's husband is the House Husband and the primary caretaker of their two daughters, constantly packing up and moving to follow her military career.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Lu has this not only after being raped, but it kicks into high gear after of course the grand jury declines to indict her attacker. She has another after he boyfriend is shot and killed trying to protect her from a vengeful patient.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Several patients, of course. Lana is implied to have been this as well.
- Hospital Hottie: Practically everyone
- Hypocrite: With all the discrimination she's undoubtedly faced as a woman and as a Latina, Lu seems downright outraged at the very idea that a man(Dylan) could be a women's health specialist.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Averted with Dana. Having decided to have a child on her own, she struggles to conceive, then miscarries soon after she finally does. She resigns herself to never being able to have a child naturally and to that end, ultimately decides to adopt two girls. . .and never does conceive on her own.
- Lifetime Movie of the Week: Now in TV series format! With all the clichés (man hate, perpetual victimization and infantilization of women, big leaps in logic, etc.) too!
- The Lost Lenore: Dylan's backstory includes a fiancee killed in a car accident—caused by him when he fell asleep at the wheel.
- Making Use of the Twin: This is the first show in which one of the Mowry twins was featured, but not both. Of course, this means Kayla (Tamera) has a twin sister, Keisha (Tia), as seen in "My Sister, My Doctor, Myself". Keisha turns out to be The Ophelia as well.
- MD Envy: Peter does not have this, he's clearly quite happy being a nurse/midwife, to the point where he's downright offended when Kayla suggests he go to medical school, not because she doesn't respect him as a nurse, but because she does.
- Medical Drama
- Mr. Fanservice: Peter. Nurse, rides a motorcycle, vegetarian, Buddhist, former Peace Corps volunteer, was in a band before going into medicine, heavily implied to be a great lover, etc. Dylan West also. None of Peter's abovementioned qualities, but still a very good looking man.
- The Not-Love Interest: Peter to Lu. Any other show would have Will They or Won't They? tension, but here, they are genuinely just good friends. As well as with Dana. Even though he insists on actually sleeping with her when she asks him to father her child, it's not because of Unresolved Sexual Tension, it's merely because he feels that the natural way to conceive a child is the best. And while she's clearly impressed at his bedroom skills, it never turns into an actual relationship between them.
- Dylan to Lu. Any other show would translate their antagonism as Belligerent Sexual Tension, but it turns out they are simply two people whose personalities and way of doing things clash. And when things start to improve, it isn't because they're falling in love, just merely finally learning to get along and work together.
- Older Than They Look: Former Teen Genius Kayla Thornton. A Running Gag is to have people amazed that someone that young-looking is a full-blown doctor.
- Playing Gertrude: Rosa Blasi (Lu) is only eleven years older that the actor who played her son. Slightly justified since she was a teen mom, even though she states that she had him at 16.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: The episode "First Response" was intended to be the first episode of a spin-off series of the same name, featuring, like its parent show, two polar opposite medical professionals—one a doctor, another a paramedic—who also happen to be a Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling pair. While ratings were not bad, it failed to generate enough interest to result in a new show.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Rule One of this show: Dr. Lu Delgado is ALWAYS RIGHT. Even if she's not. And no one should dare question her.
- Rape as Drama: Lu is raped by one of the surgeons. The final episode of the storyline involves a gathering of women—including the prosecutor in her case—who had been assaulted and whose attackers had gone unpunished for a variety of reasons. It might seem like typical Lifetime tripe, but it's actually a very depressing Truth in Television.
- In one of the episodes, a teenage girl needs a transplant. When no match could be found, the girl's mother tells the staff there is one possible remaining donor candidate- the girl's father, who had fathered the girl by raping her mother.
- Also, Part of Lana's backstory is that she is a rape survivor as well, and in an episode she's again raped by a thug that broke into the hospital's hall at random.
- The trope is used with such ridiculous ease that it brings up terrible messages: "women should pretty much inevitably expect to be raped", "90% of men are rapists", "women don't experience true abuse and trauma unless their genitalia is involved", etc.
- One of the very first episodes featured a young man coming to the clinic for HIV testing. After some gentle prodding by Lu, he admitted that he had been out drinking late one night and was assaulted by a group of men when walking home. Lu reacts perfectly appropriately, refusing to let him blame himself for being drunk, being out late, and being in a bad neighborhood.
- Really Gets Around: When one of Lu's old high school boyfriends shows up, Lana asks her if he was "the first one". Lu sheepishly admits that rather, "he was the only one I didn't do it with."
- Ripped from the Headlines: A few plots were. The most blatant was the plot of the sixth-season premiere "New Blood": A flood of patients comes in from a train wreck from someone leaving a car on the tracks. Later, a bipolar girl in manic state comes in to tell Lu how she got over a suicidal impulse. Her method: Drive a car onto the tracks and wait for a train. She got over it...but she left the car on the tracks. This is pretty much how the 2005 Glendale train wreck happened (though the perp in real life was a man.)
- Sassy Black Woman: Lana
- Sassy Secretary: Lana, again.
- Soapbox Sadie: Lu
- Stay in the Kitchen: An Army recruiter has a rather patronizing attitude to a young woman interested in joining, and to Andy herself, until she coldly reminds him that he's not only speaking to a fellow officer, he's speaking to a superior and tells him to shut up.
- Dr. Dylan West pretends to have this attitude to get a rise out of Lu.
- Team Mom: Lana, again, also the Only Sane Man, to the point of Magical Negro, given the sage advice and counsel she frequently doles out.
- Teen Pregnancy: Lu's son is the result of this, and a later episode had him fearing that he'd gotten his girlfriend pregnant.
- Tomboyish Name: Andy. Lana calls her "Andrea', assuming that Andy is short for this, but Andy corrects her and informs her that "Andy" is her full name, given by a father who had been either wanting or expecting a boy.
- Unexpected Positive: When the hospital staff was subjected to drug testing, Peter worried that he might test positive given his occasional pot-smoking. He didn't, but Lana tested positive for cocaine, stunning her as she had long since given up that lifestyle. It turns out the medium used for testing—human hair, because toxic substances can linger in the hair long after a person has last used the drug—could also easily pick up outside substances. Lana lived in a poor neighborhood where drug use was frequent and the cocaine particles in the air had clung to her hair (and it being African-American hair made them even more likely to stick than to hair of a different ethnicity and texture), making her test positive even though she no longer used drugs.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Dana and Dr. Jackson, though it's mostly one-sided on his part. When he asks her "if I wasn't married. . .?", she immediately shuts him down by reminding him that he is. In another episode, when Nick makes a mistake and Dr. Jackson punishes him harshly, Dana outright tells him that he's doing this out of jealousy, and in yet another episode, upon hearing that she's looking for a sperm donor, offers his, er, services.
- Where Da White Women At?: Andy's new boyfriend is African-American. His mother is not pleased when they meet. And he gets killed off.
- Writer on Board: Lu seems to be a mouthpiece for the Lifetime people's black-and-white view of the interactions between men and women.