“Code Black” introduces us to a new Indian lesbian MD

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I know what you’re thinking: Another medical drama? Will the TV powers that be ever run out of hospital stories to tell? That answer is never, because these shows have a proven formula and even those that don’t last that long (R.I.P. Emily Owns MD) are successful enough to get people watching. (Seriously, that show had one million viewers and it was axed.) But when you throw in Marcia Gay Harden as the lead (a woman! A woman who is really awesome at her extremely important job!) and an Indian lesbian character on network TV, well, you probably have enough reasons to tune in for Code Black.

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In tonight’s pilot episode, you will meet the major players: Marcia as Dr. Leanne Rorish, Luis Guzmán as the lovable Jesse Sallander, and newcomer Melanie Chandra as Malaya Pineda, the lesbian MD in “the most notorious ER in the nation.” There are also a few other new additions to the residents team (Christa Lorenson, Mario Savetti and Angus Leighton), but let’s face it: We’re here for Malaya.

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If you’re looking for clues of Malaya’s gayness, you won’t find it in the season premiere. (The actress herself didn’t even know when she read the first script!) The focus of the episode is the intensity of the ER, because this is not like the heightened personal and romantic stories of Grey’s Anatomy or House. This drama is about the very dark, very real situations of an emergency room, based on a documentary that revealed what it’s truly like to be in a situation where a “Code Black” is called–aka the moment the ER is so slammed, there’s not enough help to go around. A truly manic and tragic situation for everyone involved.

So while you will get a look at the Los Angeles emergency room and the people we will be following through it, we won’t hear much about Malaya’s personal life until the third episode, “Pre-Existing Conditions.” And in episode 6, we’ll meet her ex, played by Shiri Appleby, who was also Leslie Shay’s ex on Chicago Fire. Shiri is very pregnant in real life, and her pregnancy will factor into the show.

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A little more about Malaya from the Code Black site:

A natural detective, Malaya is a doctor who needs proof. Her biggest challenge is acknowledging that the numbers don’t always tell the whole story – and that you don’t always have time to run the tests. Naturally cool, calm, and collected, Malaya is highly ambitious, but never at the expense of others.

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Malaya is an awesome addition to the network TV line-up of more queer women of color characters this fall season, and especially in that we lost our only out Indian character when Kalinda said goodbye on The Good Wife earlier this year. Although Melanie is still somewhat new, you may recognize her from roles on Parenthood, NCIS: Los Angeles or HBO’s The Brink. She’s also a graduate of Stanford University and a former Miss India America. We’re excited she’s part of the main cast of this new CBS show, and can’t wait to see another bad ass lesbian doc in action.

Follow Melanie on Twitter and Instagram and tune into Code Black tonight at 10/9c on CBS.

 

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