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Series / Providence

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Providence was an American drama series created by John Masius (Touched by an Angel), which ran for five seasons (1999–2002) on NBC.

It centered on Dr. Sydney Hanson, a plastic surgeon who leaves her glamorous practice in Beverly Hills to return to her hometown of Providence, Rhode Island for her sister's wedding and decides to stay and be closer to her family. It starred Melina Kanakaredes (later of CSI: NY fame) as Sydney, and Mike Farrell (formerly of M*A*S*H) as her father Jim. Syd's brother and sister are also present, and Syd frequently gets visits — and advice — from her late mother's ghost.

NBC fully intended to continue the series following its fifth-season "winter finale", but after Kanakaredes told them she would not return there was no choice but to end it permanently.


This show provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Janie, after her miscarriage and breaking up with her fiance.
  • Babies Ever After: The second-to-last season ends with Robbie and Tina welcoming their new baby.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Syd's family.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: The pilot has Sydney's mother dying roughly halfway through and her sister giving birth near the end.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Subverted. When a madman shoots up the clinic, it's Helen who's shot. She survives, but quits to recover from her injuries. note 
  • Bookends: The series begins and ends with a wedding—Janie's aborted one in the first instance, and Sydney's completed one in the finale.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Janie's second pregnancy. It's unplanned, her father disapproves as this is now the second time she's been pregnant out of wedlock, and despite bringing her and her fiance together, is generally not looked at as a good thing by anyone. But the word "abortion" is never mentioned by anyone, and she loses the baby just as everyone is starting to adjust to the idea.
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  • Dead Person Conversation: Syd is visited by her mother, who died in the first episode, quite frequently.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Sydney's high school boyfriend Kyle has his arm amputated due to cancer. She can handle it, but he can't and breaks up with her.
  • Dream Intro: Every episode starts this way, with protagonist Syd having a dream featuring her mother who is in limbo. At one point, she has a conversation with her mother while in her car and is horrified to realize that she's fallen asleep while driving. Luckily, nothing bad happens.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: Sydney gets very uneasy about Kyle's relationship with his pretty physical therapist. Nothing happens, however. Later, she becomes very attracted to her own physiotherapist, but it never goes beyond flirtation.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Both of Sydney's younger siblings, Robbie and Janie, to her.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: As cited above. Janie never even considers the idea, despite the circumstances.
  • Hollywood Healing: Averted. Jim is never quite the same after being shot in the head, and it takes considerable rehab to even get him to that point. Sydney must also undergo physical therapy after her illness and pushes herself too hard, collapsing in one case and getting into a car accident in the other.
  • Hospital Paradiso: Sydney was a renowned plastic surgeon in LA, but she was clearly unfulfilled—one clip shows her outright rolling her eyes at a patient. She returns home to work in a humble family practice clinic with her best friend from college and medical school.
  • Hustler: Syd's little brother.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: The show's first Christmas Episode, "Home For The Holidays", had Sydney wishing she'd never returned to Providence. Her mother (of course), shows her what would have happened otherwise.
  • Kindly Vet: Syd's dad.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: Sydney's clinic burns down at the end of one season. The next season, the final one, begins with her abandoning plans to rebuild it and taking a hospital job. She also moves out of her father's house and in with her lawyer boyfriend.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Tina (Robbie's wife) fears she can't conceive. Of course she does once Sydney works her magic.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Sydney's mother's ghost remains in the "Mother-of-the-Bride" dress that she died in.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Joanie's fireman boyfriend can't perform. He goes to Sydney and it turns out there's a legitimate medical issue necessitating surgery. Joanie's ticked off that she wasn't told, but Sydney reminds her about patient confidentiality.
  • Medical Drama: What it centered on.
  • Parental Favoritism: Syd's siblings think her parents favor her and don't like it.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: Sydney's return to Providence is kicked off after walking in on her boyfriend with another man.
  • Politician Guest-Star: Providence, Rhode Island Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci appeared periodically (the series' run coincided with Cianci's second and final stint as the city's mayor before it ended in a corruption sting that was nicknamed "Operation Plunder Dome".
  • Posthumous Character: Sydney's mother.
  • Ship Sinking: Many of the show's relationships:
    • From the moment she returned to Providence, it seemed be Sydney was destined to reunite with her high-school sweetheart Kyle. Only for him to see himself as damaged goods after his arm was amputated due to bone cancer and break up with her despite her repeated assurances that she loved him no matter what.
    • Robbie falls in love with his father's veterinary assistant Heather, even interrupting her wedding to whisk her away. However, he can't change the irresponsible behavior that led her to rebuff his advances in the first place​, leading them to break up.
    • Also, Janie and her second fiance. She becomes an alcoholic after her miscarriage and pushes him away. It ends realistically as before — by the time she gets her act together, he's moved on.
    • The father briefly dates a former classmate of the girls' but it fizzles when the girls' can't let go of their objections over the age difference.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Syd and her siblings fight a lot.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Sydney, although that's the common spelling for the female version of the name, with Sidney only being used for males.
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: Sydney is a plastic surgeon, but begins work as a family practitioner despite her friend's misgivings, which are precisely because she doesn't have the necessary training in this specialty. Additionally:
    • A former high school classmate asks for her to treat her OCD, something that would be done by a psychiatrist.
    • She operates on Joanie's boyfriend to treat his impotence, something that would be done by a urologist.
    • She helps sister-in-law Tina get pregnant, something that would handled by a fertility specialist.
  • Widowed at the Wedding: Happens to the family patriarch when his wife collapses at Joanie's wedding.
  • You're Drinking Breast Milk: Janie accidentally uses her breast milk to make clam chowder, striking gold when everyone raves about how delicious it is and even suggests that she try to market it.