Are there ever enough medical shows? Maybe so, but the pilot of Emily Owens M.D. will have you shrugging that notion off entirely. The new CW show stars Mamie Gummer (The Good Wife, Off the Map) starring as, well, Emily Owens, a surgeon-in-training her first year out of medical school. A self-professed dork in high school, she’s trying to shake that image in her professional life, despite learning that working in a hospital is just like the world of cliques, popular kids and geeks that she is trying to escape.
Emily finds a few friends at the Denver hospital she’s working in, though, including Tyra Dupre, played by Kelly McCreary (I Just Want My Pants Back, White Collar). Tyra takes Emily through the halls and shows her the popular girls (the plastic surgeons), the ER docs (the rebels) and the anesthesiologists (the stoners). But surgeons are part of a melting pot, including what Kelly says is “a black sheep” like herself.
“She definitely feels free to speak her mind, kind of do whatever the heck she wants to do, has no compulsion to conform whatsoever, which I loved about it immediately,” Kelly said. “I was like ‘Great! I can do whatever I want with this character.’ It was so wide open; she doesn’t necessarily fit into any boxes.”
Which is why she connects with Emily, another first-year intern who looks a little lost. Tyra instantly takes her under her wing, which she’s familiar with because her dad is the hospital chief.
“I think she sees [Emily] is a girl who doesn’t quite fit in either,” Kelly said, “so let’s be friends! I bet [Tyra’s] whole circle of friends is just a random group of random people who just do their own thing and don’t care what other people think.”
Early on in their meeting, Tyra tells Emily both that she’s a lesbian and her relationship with her dad is fraught. First she says it’s because of her sexuality; later she relays he actually doesn’t know she’s gay. Instead, he doesn’t like “her personality.”
“It’s a little confusing isn’t it?” Kelly said. “I don’t know yet, why we don’t get along. That’s the honest truth! I think it will reveal itself in a few episodes of the season. We’ll have a nice arc in there, finding out what the deal is with Tyra and her dad.”
The show’s creator and producer Jennie Snyder Urman (Gilmore Girls, Lipstick Jungle) said there will be a story arc about Tyra’s coming out to her father, and since the show goes back into production this week, Kelly will find out what happens for her character sooner than later.
“She’ll have a process of coming out to her dad, who she’s not out to yet, and then I want to get into her romantic life,” Jennie said of Tyra. “I adore Kelly, she’s a fantastic actress, so I want to give her a lot of stuff to play.”
In the pilot, Tyra does take interest in a nurse, who she asks Emily to feel out for her, causing Emily some minor embarrassment. But Emily is involved in two love triangles of her own already, so she will not be anything more than a friend to her gay friend Tyra. Instead, Tyra will have a new love interest (or interests) coming to the show.
“I’m actually just getting into this,” Jennie said. “I think she likes unattainable girls. Where Emily is all heart, [Tyra]’s afraid to get too invested. She likes straight girls that she turns, or she likes people that may be going out of town, and I think eventually she’ll have to confront that and actually dig into a relationship and that will be an interesting journey for her character.”
Looks like Tyra has some heartbreak headed her way. “I mean, it’s the CW. Of course she’s going to be dating on the show!” Kelly said. As for her type of girl, Kelly said, “In the pilot episode we do see the girl she initially has a crush on. So I don’t know — tall redheads!”
Tyra Dupre will be the first major lesbian character on a CW series. In the past, the network (whose demographic is adults 18-34) has had bisexual characters or bit part lesbians (Melrose Place, Ringer, 90210, Hellcats) so this is a major step forward. Interestingly enough, Tyra will also be one more hot gay doctor on our TV screens, joining a legion of present and past lesbian M.D.s including Arizona Robbins (Grey’s Anatomy), Kerry Weaver (E.R.) and Liz Cruz (Nip/Tuck).
Emily Owens M.D. premieres Tuesday, October 16 on The CW.