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TV Series Review

It's The Breakfast Club in hospital gowns, The Fault in Our Stars with a whole lotta company.

The Society is a mishmash of seriously sick teenagers all living in a hospital pediatric ward. Sixteen-year-old Leo is the group's cancer-stricken leader, a guy who lost his leg to the disease but still has heart aplenty. He once dated Emma, a pretty 15-year-old with anorexia, but she has recently fallen into the orbit of Jordi, a moody newcomer who also has cancer. Emma's way with the ward's two most eligible bachelors is a constant frustration for one-time drug user Kara—a petulant mean girl who needs a new ticker. Dash gives the ward a bit of freeform levity, despite the fact that he has cystic fibrosis. And all the action is narrated by Charlie, a 12-year-old in a coma.

Forced to live together through circumstance and given a sense of solidarity through disease, these kids (with the possible exception of poor Charlie) become friends—almost family. And together they experience as much of adolescence as you can in a hospital, learning a few valuable lessons along the way, often summed up by Charlie in nice, cogent platitudes at the end of the episode.

They also get into their share of trouble: They play hooky from therapy sessions or cheat on their diets. They've been known to bolt from the hospital grounds and get drunk. Sometimes they kiss and canoodle, trying to round as many bases sexually as they can.

You'd think their parents would put a stop to some of that but, of course, they're typically not around much. Oh, they'll show up for the occasional visit, often providing as much strife as comfort. (An example: Tara's lesbian moms are at first more concerned with turning her heart condition into a tweet-worthy cause than truly caring for their suffering daughter.) But for the most part, guiding these sick teens to adulthood is the unofficial job of the hospital staff. Nurse Jackson, the ward's unquestioned queen bee, dispenses tough-love wisdom with a firm hand, trying to provide as much normalcy as possible. Newbie Nurse Brittany is the floor's "good cop"—and a bit of a pushover for her ward-wise charges.

The result is a bit like the offerings at a hospital cafeteria. There's some good stuff to pick up now and then, but it's mostly the television equivalent of mystery meat. These characters learn to care for one another—but sometimes they show it in inappropriate ways. They try to live boldly in the face of frightening challenges—but sometimes "living boldly" takes them into areas where they shouldn't be. They're learning about life like a lot of teens do, a bit through some wise advice, a bit through trial and error.

But the advice isn't always great and their errors aren't always called out as such. And so this crass catnip for the emotionally overwrought can actually make you feel a little ... sick.


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Episode Reviews

Red-Band-Society: 9-24-2014



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Octavia Spencer as Nurse Jackson; Dave Annable as Dr. Jack McAndrew; Astro as Dash Hosney; Griffin Gluck as Charlie; Zoe Levin as Kara Souders; Ciara Bravo as Emma Chota; Rebecca Rittenhouse as Nurse Brittany Dobler; Charlie Rowe as Leo Roth; Nolan Sotillo as Jordi Palacios; Wilson Cruz as Kenji Gomez-Rejon






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Paul Asay

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