“Red Band Society” (1.2) recap: Sole Searching


First, let’s be clear: Red Band Society is not a show about dying. Yes, all the kids on the show have potentially terminal diseases like cancer, cystic fibrosis and anorexia nervosa, but the show is really about discovering what really matters in life. You see, when you’re sick and living in a hospital, superficial concerns like popularity and social cliques fade away and you’re able to make friends with people you otherwise wouldn’t even talk to. As least, according to Charlie, aka Coma Boy, who narrates the show from the “in between” where not only can he hear everything that is said in his room, but apparently he can see and hear the happenings in other rooms as well. (We’ll just have to suspend our disbelief on that one). Apparently, this coma also makes Charlie super wise beyond his years, but we’ll get to that later.


So, if the show is really about breaking down barriers and challenging societal norms, you can probably guess what kind of television tropes make up the titular group.

The Cheerleader: Kara is the first to be introduced and therefore, most likely the character that will change and grow the most over the course of the season. She’s pretty and popular, superficial and selfish but what her heart lacks in emotion and empathy it makes up for in sheer size. That’s right. She has an enlarged heart. Oh, the irony! (Insert numerous heart jokes here. Seriously, there are numerous. I’ve counted four in the first two episodes alone.)

The Jock: Leo is a former soccer player who lost his leg, and his hair, to osteosarcoma. In other circumstances, he probably would’ve ended up living in a frat house, but since he is living in a hospital he’s been able to find some perspective. As the longest resident of Ocean Park hospital, he is the leader of the group.

The Black Drug Dealer:  OK, so Dash not a drug dealer, per se, but he does where to find the medical marijuana. Dash has cystic fibrosis, but that doesn’t stop him from being the fun-loving partier of the group. He has a fake ID; he knows how to sweet-talk the hospital valet to let him borrow a car, he’s funny. You know, because heaven forbid that the black kid be the brains of the crew.

The Brain: Emma, a dark-haired beauty with a penchant for petite chapeaus, plays the role of the resident brain. Though, the hats might be used to disguise her thinning hair due to her battle with Anorexia, it also gives her a quirky, hipster air. She doesn’t smoke, drink or do drugs, she gets to class on time, and she certainly wouldn’t skip important appointments like physical therapy. Her goody-two shoes act is tempered by her twisted wit. She’s basically the Joey Potter of the group, and therefore my favorite so far.

The New Kid: Jordi has crossed the border from Mexico to get the life-saving surgery he desperately needs. He’s completely on his own with no parents/guardians so the patients and staff in the hospital become his family. Let’s not get bogged down in the legal and financial ramifications of performing surgery on a kid without insurance or parental consent, and instead focus our attention to the blossoming love triangle between Jordi, Emma and Leo. You had me at “love triangle”

Coma Boy: Just when you thought that Red Band Society was just like Grey’s Anatomy—the hot doctor who has one night stands with inappropriate people, the tough black woman (with a heart of gold deep, deep underneath her tough exterior) who basically runs the place, the cool catwalk/stairs flanked by floor to ceiling windows, the voice-overs, heck the pilot episode of Red Band Society even includes an acoustic version of “How to Save a Life” sung by Charlie’s Dadwe get Coma Boy. He’s cute. He’s precocious. His on the nose, hokey metaphors are not at all tiresome. Not. At. All.


You may get the sense that I’m not a huge fan of the show. That’s not true. I really, really like it. Or at least, I really want to like it. It might just take me more than two episodes for me to get really hooked. One thing that may help? More lesbian moms!

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