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On Oct. 25, Fox will air the 100th episode of The Resident, the episodic drama that celebrates the heroism and dysfunction present in the American medical system. But the show almost didn’t make it to air after being dropped by its developer Showtime and eventually rescued by a joint effort from Fox and 20th Television. Now a successful and beloved Tuesday night staple, it crosses the milestone once thought to signal inevitable syndication — and in the world of streaming disruption, the landmark episode serves as a reminder that network shows are still competing in a big way. To mark the occasion, executive producers Amy Holden Jones and Andrew Chapman spoke to THR about what it was like to get the series off the ground and what they’re most proud of.
What does this milestone of making it to 100 episodes mean to you?
AMY HOLDEN JONES Every single year we’ve been left on tenterhooks about whether we get picked up, just because of the nature of the fact that the show is owned by both Disney and Fox. But I will always remember that by the fifth episode of the show, one of our top writers turned to then-showrunner Todd Harthan and said, “Oh my God, this could run for 10 years.” The hope has always been there; I firmly believe that the show could go on indefinitely, but whether it gets that chance is outside of our control. But getting to 100 feels fantastic, doesn’t it, Andrew?
ANDREW CHAPMAN Yes. And honestly, I was more surprised that we got picked up at the end of season one than I am that we made it to 100 episodes. Really, at the end of every season, I think, “This is a miracle.”
When did you realize that the show had really become something — that there was a fandom?
CHAPMAN I first became really aware of the fandom when some of our primary castmembers left. When Shaunette Wilson [who played Mina] left in season three, we were so nervous that audiences were going to flee the show. She was so critical to the cast and really lit up the screen. People were upset but also liked the sendoff we wrote. I realized that people were really paying attention to the show — they cared about it.
HOLDEN JONES It came up again when Emily [VanCamp] left [early in season five]. The fandom around her Nic and Conrad [Matt Czuchry] became so intense. We actually waited to put them together — both actors told me during the first season, “Keep us apart, let the tension grow.” I said yes, knowing that wasn’t exactly going to happen. It was particularly heartbreaking when we got the news that, for her own very important reasons, she couldn’t come back. But Shaunette leaving was kind of a test. We learned that new castmembers can bring in new stories.
How do you decide on the best way, storywise, to write a main castmember off the show?
CHAPMAN Our first instinct is always that they’re leaving the show so we’re going to kill those characters. (Laughs.) Then we usually come to our senses and we hash it out.
HOLDEN JONES We draw a lot of storylines from real life, and it happened that the year Emily left was after I lost my husband of 45 years. Grief and loss were very much on my mind, and I thought, “This is a story I should tell.” The story of that entire season became one of grief and recovery. I think we made lemonade out of that lemon.
Amy, did you have multiple seasons of the show mapped when you were pitching to networks?
HOLDEN JONES I remember a crucial meeting I had with Dana Walden [then head of Fox Television Group] back when they were deciding whether to make The Resident or not. She asked me, “Do you have enough stories?” I said we have thousands of stories that haven’t yet been told on medical shows because we’re dealing with something that medical shows have never dealt with — that’s the underlying problems of the health care system, the things that doctors are fighting to make right.
The idea of exposing flaws in the health care system on a serialized drama was much edgier back then, before the political landscape and the pandemic made things like disparity of care widely known. Did that POV help you stand out to executives or were people resistant to the idea of criticizing medical workers?
HOLDEN JONES They were resistant. One of the problems with what gets on television is that executives are in a very precarious position. Developing anything outside of a specific template is difficult for them. It took a lot of bravery for Fox to make the show. The only time we were thrown for a loop was during the pandemic because we couldn’t be showing the corruption of medicine during a time when we needed to be encouraging people to go get a vaccine at the hospital. So that season, we made the hospital public and the problems came from outside the hospital.
From that process, or from what you’ve gone through to get the show to 100 episodes, do you feel particularly prescient about the landscape of the network television show?
HOLDEN JONES Both of us did pilots before The Resident, and we learned the mentality of a long shot. If you sell the networks something in September, by January they want something else. Or they pick up a show from someone famous, and it’s not even very good — because it’s from someone famous. I don’t have the answers to this business, and I don’t think anybody does because it’s so staggeringly in flux that there’s an aura of panic. My own opinion is that the pendulum is swinging back somewhat to network shows, and people are going to have to realize that.
As the show has progressed and you’ve seen a couple of castmembers move on, you’ve also added in new actors, like Morris Chestnut and Andrew McCarthy. What do you look for when adding to this already established dynamic?
CHAPMAN We look for complementary people, but we’re also very aware of specifically what kind of doctors we have in the hospital, from surgeons to internists to nurses to administrators. It’s a delicate balance because actors playing surgeons often get these exciting operating scenes that often come in the fourth or fifth act with these big, scary stakes. Like with Andrew McCarthy, he’s playing a pediatric surgeon, so that helps us. We do a lot of real-life medical thinking.
HOLDEN JONES You may have noticed that we’ve added actors from ’80s and ’90s sitcoms because my feeling is that if people can do comedy, they can do anything. We don’t want too much deadly seriousness on this show. We also make sure to properly vet people and make sure they haven’t been a problem on set elsewhere. A little-known fact to people outside of our cast and crew is that we have one of the happiest productions in television. There is no drama, there are no divas. Everyone really likes each other. That’s really important to me because once upon a time I was a director and wrote features, and I don’t think there was a single project where there wasn’t a great drama caused by someone. That’s really a great distraction.
Which moments from the first 99 episodes stand out to you as the most meaningful?
CHAPMAN I think our opening for season four, when we were in the heart of COVID and we did a COVID-themed episode, that was one of my favorite episodes by far. That episode was just a powerful thing to write — and to see — in the middle of the pandemic.
HOLDEN JONES A key episode for me is the pilot, which I’m very proud of. The fifth episode features multiple surgeries with Mina running in between them and an intern who kills himself. Those two storylines were supposed to be in the second episode, but the network freaked out and didn’t want to go there. I had terror in my heart that they wouldn’t let us do what we were trying to do, but by the fifth episode, they trusted Todd [Harthan], who wrote it and was the showrunner, to know what the show was all about. It really set the template.
Is there a piece of advice you wish you had back when you started the show?
CHAPMAN I think the most important thing for showrunning is remaining calm. Every episode, every season, there’s always going to be some disastrous thing. You read so much about shows that hand in scripts the night before they shoot and such, and we never do that. We work hard, and that’s great, but we never panic.
Given the nature of the surgeries and medical emergencies that happen in the show, is there ever any squeamishness on set?
CHAPMAN Yes, but we can’t really talk about it. (Laughs.) Not too long ago we had a guest start acting out a seizure and then actually had a panic attack and we had to call EMTs. It happened so many times that we had to stop shooting. And we had an actor — I won’t tell you who — who had an intense pus aversion and literally could not do a scene with it, even though it was fake.
Can you tease anything else about what we can expect from the rest of season six?
CHAPMAN We have a hot doctor coming. (Laughs.)
Interview edited for length and clarity.
The Resident Cast In Their Own Words
The stars of the series on what they remember about the first 100 — and what they’ve learned about medicine.
Matt Czuchry (Conrad Hawkins) The first table read was brutal. Each castmember was in a chair, with the chairs not in a circle but a line. Some of the actors you were in a scene with were, like, four chairs down, so you had to crane your neck around the other actors in order to see. Sounds confusing and challenging? It was! There were cameras filming the performance for the studio to review after the reading, and the vast majority of our executives, who are amazing and supportive, were in that room assessing if this pilot could make it to air. That’s just one example of the madness it took for us collectively to get here.
Manish Dayal (Devon Pravesh) One of the most stressful scenes to shoot was when Devon’s father died of COVID. It was not just thematically complicated to portray a loved one dying on a Zoom call, but it was also very culturally relevant, and I wanted to get it right. To represent the pandemic was a big responsibility we all took very seriously, and it was important to me to illustrate authentically what it meant to be both a doctor and a son in that moment.
Bruce Greenwood (Randolph Bell) I remember from the first table read that a group of people this friendly and decent seemed too good to be true. There are so many stories from the set to choose from, I don’t know where to start. The short answer is “long days and nights as we burn the midnight oil.”
Malcolm-Jamal Warner (A.J. Austin) What I loved about the show from the very beginning is that Amy [Holden Jones] and the writers are not afraid to address the not-so-nice aspects of the medical field. For me, one of our most powerful episodes was when we tackled maternal mortality. The episode shed light on the fact that Black women face higher [mortality] rates than any other group — the odds of a Black woman dying from pregnancy or delivery complications are three to four times higher than white women. That’s an astonishing disparity I wasn’t aware of.
Jane Leeves (Kit Voss) My most stressful scene was when Kit volunteered to speak with Conrad about Nic’s wishes to be an organ donor when it was clear she would not survive. Matt was so fragile in that moment, and the eerie respectful silence on set added to the weight of it.
This story first appeared in the Oct. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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