Sorry Nurse Jackson, but Red Band Society is unreal. You totally meant to make some daughters cry. (I apologize for this intro a million times.)
Red Band Society, which airs Wednesdays at 9pm on Fox.
What is life like for the tweens and teens who are permanent residents in a hospital? This tug-at-the-heartstrings drama follows the kids and staff (including Octavia Spencer and Dave Annable) at the pediatric wing of a Ocean Park hospital. Oh, and the story is narrated by a 12-year-old boy in a coma (Griffin Gluck).
Steven Spielberg is on of the executive producers, though his track record has been very hit-and-miss. The show is based on the telenovela Polseres Vermelles. It was originally pitched to ABC by Marta Kauffman (Friends) a few years back, but didn’t advance.
Who is Red Band Society For?
People who nod poignantly at aphoristic bumper stickers. The pilot is chock full of those little nuggets.
The premise of Red Band Society is intriguing. Octavia Spencer is fine as the firm but fair Nurse Jackson.
What Doesn’t Work
The scripts must have been sitting around since the original pitch, because all the hip jive that the kids are spitting is dated to the point where I expected a visit from a rapping granny. All the kids are wise beyond their years, which is annoying enough when there’s just one kid like that, but eight? Ugh. Couple this with the fact that the boy in the coma is narrating a significant portion of the program makes Red Band Society more of a radio play than a TV show.
The music choices are rather odd, including the Who’s “My Generation” and Stealers Wheel’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” and nothing contemporary.1 Maybe it’s the Red Band ’70s Preservation Society?
Does This Pass the Bechdel Test?2
Yes! Awful cheerleader Kara (Zoe Levin) and recovering anorexic Emma (Ciara Bravo) talk about food, smoking, drinking, and drugs. But not boys!
Red Band Society is not my bag at all, so feel free to take this with a grain of salt. The stakes of the show are undercut by high school level irony—will the heartless girl get a heart transplant? for example—and is cringe-worthy at best. Honestly, I’m surprised ABC didn’t pick this up, since it feels so off-brand for Fox.