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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 department (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:

  • Annoying Patient: If the problems aren't caused by interns or Bykov's weird antics, they would often be caused by the patients themselves. Some are dumb and/or arrogant, some are rich and entitled, some are outright insane.
  • 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 shows just how badly they can screw up:
    • In his very first episode, Semyon Lobanov (in direct violation of Bykov's orders) blindly injects his (old and frail) patient with a medicine he only vaguely remembers as the right one. By sheer miracle it turns out out to be correct, but it clearly shows his approach to his job. Bykov teaches him a lesson by lying that he did kill the patient.
    • Boris Levin receives a 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 identifying it, he came to conclusion that it must be some new, unique illness he can research and name. So, he proceeds with countless senseless tests, culminating in attempt to take a sample of the patient's brain.
    • In one episode, Varya was supposed to discharge her patient from the hospital; instead, she wasted a full week keeping her in, which resulted in her falling ill again.
  • Divorce Is Temporary:
    • Semyon Lobanov breaks up with his wife Olga early in the series, over him lying to her and refusing to quit smoking (which was believed a reason why they can't have children). Several seasons later, Olga returns and starts working in the hospital, and while it takes Semyon several more seasons, he ultimately manages to win her back; the two quietly remarries and finally makes a baby together, daughter named Katia.
    • Timur's entire ark is about his attempts to convince his ex-wife Polina to forgive him and restart relationship. It seemingly works after all... and then he starts lying to her for no good reason, and she, remembering that his lies were why she dumped him in the first place, breaks up with him permanently. He makes one last ditch attempt, which only cements her hating him when he ruins it by poor timing, after which he disappears from the series.
  • Elevator Snare: In the first season's fifth episode, Gleb, Varya, and a pregnant woman who's about to give birth get stuck in an elevator. Bykov has to instruct them how to assist the woman as they clearly have to do it right there. Then technicians start the elevator again, and it starts moving between floors, fast, forcing Bykov to pursue it. When he barely catches up and tries to give instructions... it starts moving again. This repeats multiple times, with the situation keeps advancing. By the end, Bykov is almost as exhausted as the woman who just gave birth right in the elevator.
  • Everybody Smokes: Romanenko and Lobanov smokes quite often. Kupitman and Kisegach are occasional smokers (the latter usually does it to deal with stress). A lot of secondary characters smoke as well. The hospital even has a dedicated smoking room, despite smoking in hospitals being banned in real life. It mostly stops in later seasons, due to rules regarding showing it becoming stricter.
  • Fake Orgasm: In Season 2, Episode 1, Gleb and Varya finally have sex together, but Varya was not fully satisfied by this and had to fake her orgasm so as not to hurt Gleb's feelings. However, she got a bit overzealous while faking it, and now Gleb thinks that it was "the best night of [her] life."
  • From Roommates to Romance: Soon after their respective breakups with asshole partners, Phil and Polina (flatmates by this point) falls for each other, and opens relationship. It doesn't go smooth at first, however, as both are too shy to reveal their feelings to the other one; Phil is the first one to start acting on it.
  • Last-Name Basis:
    • Bykov, Kupitman and Kisegach always addresses interns by their surnames (Bykov can also use nicknames); exceptions are Varya (only Bykov ever calls her by surname) and Phil (only gets called by first name), plus, Kisegach obviously calls her son Gleb by name.
    • When patients gets named at all, generally, only surnames gets revealed.
  • Lethally Stupid: Sometimes, interns' screwups are silly. Sometimes, they're dangerous, and their punishments are well-deserved. Repeat offender is Semyon Lobanov, starting from the very first episode.
  • Love Triangle: With love being one of the recurring themes, love-inspired conflicts occurs frequently.
    • In season 4–5, Bykov and Kisegach have a brief fallout, during which, Kisegach started dating Anton Yaroslavsky. Eventually, she dumped him on her own when he became assertive and tried to force her into firing Bykov, and returned to Bykov.
    • In season 5, Semyon (who by that point already divorced Olga) starts dating Irina; but in season 6, Olga returns and starts dating Phil. Lobanov now tears apart between Old Flame and new love; old flame wins.
    • In season 7, Semyon starts trying to make Olga break with Phil and return to him. While eventually she does break with Phil (as the two realises that they're not ready to go past casual dating), it takes Semyon some more time to make her go back.
    • In the season 14, Victor Romanenko returns to get Anastasia back, and to force their son Gleb to mature up (for which they have to cooperate); with Bykov acting like his usual self, he almost succeeds without even trying much, and Bykov saves his marriage at nearly the last moment.
  • No Name Given: Majority of patients never gets named — even when they're crucial for the episode's plot.
  • Perpetual Poverty: The hospital itself is always underfunded, forcing Kisegach to cut corners, or bribe inspectors. It mostly just gets mentioned in background (mainly as a reason why one of the doctors is angry at her), but two episodes involves Kisegach's attempt to save money on fire safety, of all things. This is also why she puts so much importance into pleasing various sponsors (usually unsuccessfully).
  • Poor Communication Kills: Frequently, the plot gets started by characters being unable to properly communicate. Repeat offenders are:
    • Varya either can't explain what she actually needs from her patients (this is when they actually abide her orders at all, given her inability to insist on anything) or other people, or keeps withholding 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 the other one, and either would reply in turn (starting long play which only ends when one of them decides to confront the other one directly), or would spend whole episode hiding (despite their presence being required for something really important). This mainly happens with Bykov (especially when it involves ministry), but Kisegach is not immune either.
  • The Prankster: In the hospital, pranking each other is pretty much the local sport; repeat offenders are:
    • Bykov plays pranks on everyone, with possible exclusion of his patients.
    • Kupitman mainly pranks Bykov, albeit in few cases he gets a chance to mess with interns.
    • Gleb loves to prank the other interns. Semyon is generally too dumb to come up with his own pranks, so he instead assists Gleb, but one episode involves him actually pranking everyone in the hospital to prove that he can do it just as well as the others.
  • Punishment Detail: Most common punishment for interns is to stay on a 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.
  • Putting the "Medic" in Comedic: Entire premise of the series; it's a 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.
  • Queer People Are Funny:
    • Recurring joke in the series is somebody (particularly 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 how to seduce a woman by pretending to be Camp Gay. With Bykov as his "partner". It goes as well as may be expected.
    • Phil has two gay fathers (biological father, and step-father); every time his parents or other gay relatives gets involved, expect some jokes at expense of homosexuals. Phil being "not truly straight" gets mocked occasionally, too.
  • Running Gag:
    • Almost every time when Lobanov has to pay for something, he would attempt to loan money from somebody, as he's always low on money.
    • Kupitman and "grannies":
      • Every time Kupitman calls Bykov on something, Bykov would tell him that he looks like "drunkard granny".
      • Kupitman is Younger Than He Looks and has stereotypical "granny" hairstyle. Several episodes actually have him in a role of "granny" as punchline of certain gags.
    • Levin and anything that has to do with deers: hangers, deer-decorated sweaters, statues of actual deers... And Lobanov is always here to mock him for it (in fact, he is the one who started all this, by calling him "deer" after Levin's Alcohol-Induced Idiocy).
    • Kupitman and poodles; whenever opportunity arises to mock his similarity to poodles, it wouldn't be missed.
    • Bykov (like his actor) can't pronounce the letter "R". This is milked for all its worth, sometimes even by Bykov himself. Some notable cases:
      • When looking for new interns, first thing Bykov does to reduce amount of candidates is to announce that he would kick out everyone with "R" in their surnames. In truth, it was a test to cull out everyone weak-willed.
      • One of the episode has Bykov and Kisegach having problems with finding new babysitter. The last candidate they finds has several "Rs" in every word of her name. Kisegach is ready to call Bykov out if he even tries to reject her, but surprisingly, Bykov doesn't mind.
      • When Bykov helps Levin with gaining listeners for his lecture, he pretends that it's he who's gonna be the lecturer, and the topic's name has many "Rs" in it; Bykov lampshades that many people would likely come in just to see him trying to pronounce it.
    • Alexei just can't shut up about his hometown Torzhok. When it became particularly annoying, Bykov put a fine system to discourage him.
  • Secret Relationship: Multiple occur throughout the series, sometimes lasting for quite some time:
    • Levin and Lyuba developed a relationship in the first season, but chose to keep it hidden to preserve their dignity (slim nerd and chubby nurse; they're doomed to be a laughing stock). Levin accidentally reveals it by himself when he thinks that everyone knows already (and mocks them) and tries to defend Lyuba. Ultimately, everyone reacts just fine, and the two continues dating openly.
    • Bykov and Kisegach started dating each other early into the series (and were "friends with benefits" long before then), but tried to hide it from everyone at first, out of fear that Gleb (Anastasia's son) would find out, since he and Bykov can't stand each other. Gleb eventually finds out anyway, but learns to accept it, and need to keep in secret died out by itself. Eventually, the two would marry and have a son.
    • Kupitman and Lyuba started dating in late seasons, but chose to keep it secret out of fear that everyone would mock them. When it stopped being secret after Kupitman had a near fatal heart attack and Lyuba had to explain how she, Kupitman and viagra are related... turns out that no one (excluding Lyosha, who previously was forced into role of Secret-Keeper, and even that is likely due to how he learned about it) thinks that there's something worth laughing about, and they quickly calms down. In the final episode, Kupitman even proposes to Lyuba.
  • Short-Runners: There was a short-lived attempt to make animated remake of the series (called simply The Multerns; in attempt to look more whacky (as it was advertised as parody), it had crude and often exaggerated visual style, crude and sometimes vulgar humour (like Lobanov, to demonstrate that he "doesn't care", peeing into plant) and unedited sound clips taken straight from original series, sometimes resulting in sound not matching events on the screen. Animated version only lasted for one season before being cancelled, and was received generally negatively.
  • 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 broke with each other; they reconciles after two episodes, but not before having a hellish experience of cooperating with each other in the atmosphere of mutual hatred.
      • In the last season, much later after their permanent breakup and Levin moving to USA, Levin returns to work in the hospital, even more arrogant than before... and Lyuba is still bitter after their ill-fated attempt to mend relationship. While they're now working in different departments, whenever they meets, it shows that they're unlikely to ever come along again. The true problem comes from Kupitman believing that Levin is trying to steal Lyuba from him.
    • After her divorce with Lobanov in the season 4, Olga returns in the season 6 to work in the hospital, as an accountant. Fortunately, by this point she and Semyon are no longer on bad terms. Unfortunately, Semyon is now in different relationship, with his new girlfriend being jealous, while Olga quickly gets a new suitor — Phil. The two eventually reunites, while Phil accepts staying just a friend.
    • Bykov and Kisegach, briefly. When he cheated on her, their relationship was ruined. What makes this particularly bad for Bykov is that Anastasia is not only his lover, but also his boss. Fortunately, she decides to give him another chance, and now they are married and have a young son.
    • Gleb and Varya:
      • They entered a relationship in season 2, but it didn't last for long, with them breaking up due to Gleb lying to Varya. Several subsequent episodes deals with fallout.
      • When Varya finally manages to restart their relationship (after a full season of trying to attract Gleb's attention)... she lies to him about her pregnancy; a lie which eventually implodes and ruins any chance for them to be together. Even past that they worked together for some time.
    • Bykov hires Rita (his ex-girlfriend) to temporarily replace Lyuba. Subverted in that there's nothing but mutual respect and old friendship between them (even Kisegach agrees to give her a chance); the one who actually sees any problems and tries to spark up scandal is Gleb, Anastasia's son, who has only partial information.