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Series / The Interns

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The Interns (Интерны/Interny in Russian) is a Russian sitcom inspired by the likes of Scrubs and House.

In a hospital in Moscow works Andrei Bykov, a talented, but rude head of the therapy department. His day usually involves, besides his job, messing with his best friend, the head of venereology department Ivan Kupitman, and making fun of the hospital administrator Anastasiya Kisegach with whom he used to have a relationship. But one day his routine is broken when Kisegach announces that he is now in charge of four interns, including her son. Bykov is extremely reluctant at first, but later decides to make the best of the situation.


The interns turn out to be quite unmanageable. Boris Levin is a bespectacled smug know-it-all who graduated with honors and considers himself to be the smartest of the group, almost on par with Bykov, but in reality lacks any sort of experience. Semyon Lobanov is Levin's opposite, a big threatening guy, who has worked in an ambulance, but his theoretical knowledge is almost nonexistent. Gleb Romanenko is Kisegach's son from a previous marriage, who thinks he can use his mother's position to coast through the internship without doing any work. Finally, Varvara Chernous is a shy, spineless and awkward girl whom Bykov instantly dismisses as "not doctor material".

Rounding out the cast is Lyubov Scryabina, the gossipy and optimistic head nurse whom Bykov constantly bosses around.

Later in the show, Levin leaves for America. An American student whom he befriends, Phil Richards, decides to follow his example, and goes to Moscow to study under Bykov. Although fluent in Russian, he is completely disconnected from the reality of life in Russia and the pecularities of Russian medicine, and his good intentions are immediately undercut by Bykov's negativity. Around the middle of the series, Varvara Chernous also left the Therapy (and the series), being replaced by Polina Ulyanova, a younger student who takes her job very seriously, but lacks any sort of social skills.


This series provides examples of the following:

  • The Alcoholic:
    • Venereologist Kupitman, big time. He pretty much runs on Cognac, and has personal collection of it. He also uses it as Practical Currency. In fact, his his very first appearance was when he arrived on the work with heavy hangover and asked Bykov for booze to "cure" his condition.
    • Electrician Ivanovich. That's a miracle he still lives (let alone keeps his work), despite often working while being wasted.
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Levin and anything related to (or resembling) deers (hangers, sweaters, statues...) Started as random insult from Lobanov after particularly serious screwup, but quickly become Running Gag.
    • Kupitman and poodles (probably because of his hairstyle). Started from lame insult from Levin whom he screwed over (again), but sometimes gets remembered by other characters.
    • Advertisement:
    • Bykov and lizards (taken from his old biker nickname).
  • Badass Biker: Bykov used to be one under nickname "Lizard".
    • In one episode he met his old friend Boar, and almost decided to quit here and now... only for Boar to remind him what he (and many others) needs not Lizard, but doctor Bykov, and it would be selfish to do it.
    • Much later he decided what he may be both Lizard and Doctor Bykov, and bough himself new bike. This lasted for several episodes... until he was hit by the truck and nearly died.
  • The Bully:
    • Lobanov, mostly in regards to Levin, though he also briefly abused Phil.
      • Semyon loved to play pranks on Levin. He was also one to start calling him "deer".
      • in Phil's case, one whole episode was dedicated to Lobanov trying to impose "Dedovshina" on Phil (basically, "I work here longer than you, ergo, I'm superior; now, bring me coffee and clean my boots" mentality common in Russian army, often combined with physical abuse). This was quickly stopped by Bykov, who used same logic against him: after all, Bykov works here even longer.
    • Gleb also mistreated Phil, but in more subtle way, mostly by exploiting his naiveness. This is when Lobanov already started considering Phil to be his friend.
    • Speaking about Gleb, he used to be one back in high school, cruelly abusing his fat schoolmate; it come to bite him in the ass in one of the episodes.
  • Comically Inept Healing: All over the place where interns are concerned; unfortunately, most of it happens off-screen, with only Bykov's reaction being shown, but some cases which we actually learn about show just how bad it can be:
    • In his very first episode, Semyon (in direct violation of Bykov's orders) blindly injected his (old and frail) patient with medicine he only vaguely remembers as right one. By sheer miracle it turns out out to be correct, but it clearly shows his approach to his job.
    • Levin received patient with vegetative-vascular dystonia (pretty common condition about which viewers were informed upfront, because said patient is Bykov's old headache); instead of correctly identify it, he came to conclusion it must be some new, unique illness he can research and name. So, he proceed with countless senseless tests, culminating in attempt to take sample of patient's brain.
    • In one episode, Varya was supposed to discharge her patient from the hospital; instead, she wasted full week keeping her in, which resulted in her falling ill again.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Most common punishment for interns is to stay on night shift. It's frustratingly boring, and you would be sleepy next day (not to mention you would be forced to cancel any plans you have for this day). Bykov also can force you to do orderlies' job, like cleaning duty – in front of your colleagues and patients. Of course, it gradually lost its effectiveness due to how commonly it gets issued, especially on Lobanov.
  • Everybody Smokes: Romanenko and Lobanov smoke quite often. Kupitman and Kisegach are occasional smokers (last one usually to deal with stress). A lot of secondary characters smoke as well. Hospital even has dedicated smoking room, despite formally it being outlawed.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • Lyuba, Varya, Rita, and Sophia almost never get called by their last names.
    • We don't even know last names of orderlies Pasha and Petr, or nurses Galya and Valya.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Bykov may act like Entitled Bastard and utter Troll, but he would help you if you really need it (even if he would mask it as insult, which never fools anyone). Specifically, each intern have seen his soft side at least once:
      • When Lobanov's marriage was in danger, only Bykov tried to actually save it, while Semyon acted like careless moron (which in the end doomed any chances he had).
      • When Romanenko, to everyone's surprise decided to stay in the hospital, only Bykov actually congratulated him.
      • When Chernous leaved Therapy (to work in Surgery with her new Love Interest), at first she considered Bykov's happy reaction meaning him not giving a crap about her. Instead, he was happy what she, first of his students, found her place in life and became independent from him. They parted on good terms.
      • Alexei quickly earned Bykov's wrath for his incompetence, and Bykov gave him an ultimatum: either Lyosha treats at least one patient, or Bykov would kick him out. Then Bykov learned what Lyosha is good with broken tech (showing the actual analytical skills in process), and forced him to apply his skills to medicine (by using technical terms as metaphors for human body). Alexei still failed in the end, but Bykov realised what he has potential, only missing self-confidence, and not only allowed him to stay, but personally showed what exactly he did wrong.
      • When Bykov learned what Maxim faked his diploma (because he was kicked out from the medical academy, which he tries to hide not so much to cheat his way into medicine, as because he fears to become a disappointment for his family, Bykov agreed to keep it secret on condition what Max would quietly quit himself and finish his education; he even promised to accept him back if he ever decides to return.
      • Despite having uneasy relationship with Levin, Bykov did consider him to be good new Head of Therapy and Bykov's replacement — "because there's always must be someone whom everyone would hate".
    • Lobanov, while being explosive and loving teasing other people around him, would protect people he considers to be his friends (including from other friends). He also often becomes that one guy who calls other people out on really going too far; not even Gleb, his best friend, is immune to this.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Besides Lyuba (before their breakup), nearly no one calls Levin "Boris".
    • Bykov always addresses his interns and doctors by their surnames (unless he uses nicknames).
    • Bykov, Kupitman and Kisegach are mostly called by their surnames instead of first names, even when they talk to each other.
  • The Nicknamer: Bykov has humiliating nicknames for any intern, but special mentions deserves these ones:
  • Levin constantly gets renamed to "Doctor Lenin", despite his protests.
    • Maxim is "Chukovsky", obvious joke at his surname, Korneev.
    • Gleb gets the worst of it: "Mishka kala" ("Bear of excrements", a play on "Mishka koala", "Koala bear").
  • Perpetual Poverty:
    • Lobanov is always low on money, and needs to loan from somebody. Interestingly, this started before he got divorced with Olga.
    • Hospital itself is always underfunded, forcing Kisegach to cut corners, or bribe inspectors. It mostly just mentioned in background (mainly as reason why one of doctors are angry at her), but two episodes dealt with Kisegach's attempt to save money on fire safety, of all things.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Varya, full stop. She either can't explain what she actually needs from her patients (this is when they actually abide her orders at all) or other people, or keeps withdrawing crucial information for no coherent reason.
    • Phil has bad understanding of local mentality and customs, and often can't reliably communicate with his patients.
    • Bykov and Kisegach often interact with each other using some sorts of cryptic messages, for whatever reasons. Because of this habit, when something not caused by one of them happens (like anonymous gifts, or important visit from ministry), one of them would suspect this to be some riddle from other one, and either would reply in turn (starting long play which only ends when one of them decides to confront other one directly), or would spend whole episode hiding (despite theres something really important happening which requires their presence). This mainly happens with Bykov (especially second variant), but Kisegach is not immune either.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic: Entire premise of the series; it's sitcom set in "typical" Russian hospital, where something unusual, weird, sometimes downright surreal, but always funny happens on regular basis, be it caused by interns' incompetence, their bosses' antics, Annoying Patients or all three.
  • Secret Relationship: Multiple occur throughout the series:
    • Levin and Lyuba developed relationship in first season, but keep it hidden to preserve their dignity. Levin accidentally revealed it by himself when he thought what everyone knows already — and mocks them — and tried to defend Lyuba.
    • Bykov and Kisegach started dating each other quite early into series, but tried to hide it from everyone at first, out of fear what Gleb would find out, since he and Bykov can't stand each other. Gleb initially found out anyway, but learned to accept it, and need to keep the secret died out by itself.
    • Kupitman and Lyuba started dating in late seasons, but hided it out of fear what everyone would mock them. When it stopped being secret after Kupitman had near fatal heart attack and Lyuba had to explain how she, Kupitman and viagra are related... turns out what no one thinks what there's something worth laughing about, and they quickly calmed down.
  • Token Evil Teammate:
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • For first team of interns, we have Varya and Phil (and Varya later leaved), who works with likes of Gleb, Semyon and Levin:
      • Varya is most emphatic one around here (often to her own detriment), and always ready to help people in need.
      • Phil is resident Nice Guy, always polite and friendly (but even he has his limits), and seems to be only one to not tolerate rules-breaking (even including administration). This makes him working under Kupitman, who is almost his opposite, all the more ironic.
    • Alexei is nice, friendly and cheerful, and always ready to help if he can. He works with Polina, Sophia and Maxim.
  • Troll: Characters just love trolling each other, on- and off-duty. Amongst them special mention deserves:
    • Bykov. He trolls everyone: his interns, his friends, his Love Interest and his patients. He would also troll his boss's sponsors, had she allowed him to contact with them in any way.
    • Kupitman. He is more subtle than Bykov, and mostly uses him as target rather than anyone else. This is some sort of competition between them: who would be first to play prank on another one.
    • Gleb. Unlike Bykov, who does it just for fun, or Kupitman who usually just likes to play with his friend, Gleb's pranks are more malevolent and harmful to other characters.
    • Maxim just likes mocking Alexei, whom he considers "inferior" tom himself.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic: Medical sitcom about life of "common" Russian hospital and its inhabitants. Events may range from just funny to downright surreal.
  • Token Evil Teammate:
    • Kupitman is greedy, selfish and tend to manipulate people either for his own gain or just sick amusement. Because of this, barely anyone besides Bykov and Phil (who's his subordinate since the end of internship) sticks with him.
    • Gleb is cruel troll and prankster, who likes to manipulate other people into doing his work for him, and has rather louse moral standards.
    • Maxim is haughty, selfish and has rather lousy moral. He also can't stop abusing Alexei, closest he has to a friend.
  • Queer People Are Funny:
    • Recurring joke in the series is somebody (mostly Lobanov, which is especially ironic considering he is quite homophobic) being Mistaken for Gay because of something seen or heard out of context.
    • One episode has Kupitman's "genius" plan to seduce woman by pretending to be Camp Gay. With Bykov as his "partner". It went as well as may be expected.
    • Phil; every time his parents or other relatives are involved, expect some jokes at expense of homosexuals. Phil being "not truly straight" gets mocked occasionally, too.
  • Running Gag:
  • The Slacker: Gleb and Semyon. They would do anything to avoid doing work.
    • Lobanov often creates elaborate schemes to just leave early. They almost never work, either because of genuinely terrible plan or just as terrible luck; in fact, more than once Bykov just overheard everything right in the beginning.
    • Romanenko, on the other hand, would try to fool or blackmail other people into doing his work for him, mainly when he is assigned to work with somebody. This often backfires to the point he must rush everything by himself to avoid failing the task.
  • Those Two Guys:
    • Gleb and Semyon. They always stick together, even past their internship, and often cooperate for either chicks, pranks, money or to avoid doing work.
    • Orderlies Pasha and Petr almost always appear together, usually on background.
    • Maxim and Alexei are nearly always stick together, but unlike Gleb and Semyon, calling them "friends" would be far stretching, considering abuse Max puts Alexei through.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds:
  • Working with the Ex: Happens a lot, as consequences of starting relationship with your colleagues.
    • Levin and Lyuba, twice.
      • In first season (where their relationship started), they briefly break with each other. It lasted total of two episodes, only one of which was about them.
      • In last season, much later after their permanent breakup over Levin moving to USA, Levin returns in last season, even more arrogant than before... and Lyuba is still bitter after their last meeting.
    • Lobanov divorced with Olga in season 4, but she returned in season 6, as hospital's accountant. Fortunately, by this point she and Semyon is no longer at heated terms. This eventually allowed Semyon to resurrect their relationship.
    • Bykov and Kisegach, briefly. When he cheated on her, their relationship were ruined. Which makes this particularly bad for Bykov what she is not only his lover, but also his boss. Fortunately, she decided to give him another chance, and now they are Happily Married and have young son.
    • Gleb and Varya started relationship in season 2, but it didn't last long. When she finally managed to restart it (after full season of trying to attract Gleb's attention)... she lied to him about her pregnancy; a lie which eventually imploded and ruined any chance for them to be together. Even past that they worked together for some time.
    • Bykov hired Rita (his ex-girlfriend) to temporarily replace Lyuba. There's nothing except for friendship between them now, and their past relationship ceased to become plot point past her introduction episode.
    • When Bykov hired new doctor, Polina (who by that time already returned) recognised in him her ex-husband Timur, whom she hates; she even tried to force Bykov into firing him, to no avail. Later they briefly restarted their relationship when Timur showed her what he has changed, but Timur ruined everything anyway due to making new mistakes over again. This time, he just quietly leaved.
    • Averted with Gleb and Sophia: after she dumped him right in the day of their marriage, she leaved hospital (and the series) permanently.


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