TV Alert: “ER” says goodbye


ER has been good to us. Well, at least relative to other long-time network series. From Maggie Doyle (Jorja Fox) to Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes) to lesbian patients who were treated just like straight ones, ER has done its part for visibility.

Sure, we’ve had our quibbles with the way certain things were handled. Maggie was a wonderful character — a good doctor, a feminist with a sense of humor and a smart, confident lesbian — but we had no more than a hint (she ran into an ex) that she had a personal life. Which, of course, never stopped us from imagining ourselves as part of it.

We all melted along with Kerry when Kim (Elizabeth Mitchell) flirted with her, eventually bringing her out of the closet.

Then we groaned at her storyline with Sandy (Lisa Vidal) as 1) Sandy outs Kerry before she was ready by kissing her in the ER, 2) the two nearly break up on one episode because Sandy refuses to consider pregnancy and then — poof! — a year later, Sandy has a baby with no explanation of how they resolved the issue and 3) the story devolves further into stereotype when Sandy dies and Kerry faces a custody battle over the baby.

For the most part, however, ER has been ahead of the curve in terms of including lesbians in their cast of characters, both doctor and patient.

When Dr. Weaver left the show, she was happy and in love, in a new relationship with an attractive and successful woman.

And this season, ER brought lesbians one of the best gifts of all: a story of a lesbian couple that was normal, functional and accepted without so much as a narrowed eye.

The pair’s commitment to one another even served as an object lesson for a straight doctor.

Remarkably, ER has been on for 15 years.

Its original stars moved on, but changes in the staff never really affected the show’s quality or ratings. And the current cast bears little resemblance in size, personality or chemistry to those first docs and nurses.

But even though ER has not been must-see TV for me recently, tonight (9 p.m. ET) I will watch the two-hour finale and say goodbye to County General along with the staff. Shows like ER don’t come along too often and I, for one, will miss it.

What has been your favorite part of ER over the years? What will you miss the most? Will you be watching the finale tonight?

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