Ask most people what the best sitcom of the modern era is, and they’ll probably say Seinfeld or Arrested Development. I wouldn’t disagree with them. Ask an egghead (or Josh), and they’ll probably say something like The Simpsons or even NewsRadio. I wouldn’t disagree with them, either. But while I appreciate that it may not be the best sitcom of the modern era, Scrubs is still my favorite.
The show really doesn’t get the respect that it deserves. Consider how novel it is, even today, if a sitcom can make you laugh for 20 minutes, and bring you to tears in the last two minutes. No sitcom has really ever mixed comedy with poignancy as well as Scrubs has. It was a show set against the backdrop of life-and-death stakes (literally), and it was often the deaths of patients that would bring out the best in Scrubs and bring us even closer to those characters. I love Arrested Development and NewsRadio, but I’ve never felt a connection to those characters the way I do with J.D. and Turk, and probably my favorite sitcom character ever, Dr. Cox. It still kills me that John C. McGinley never got the Emmy he so richly deserved for this scene ALONE.
Scrubs was a brilliant show not just because of the Turk Dance (BUT THAT TOO), but because it gave us real people grappling with real problems and, of course, the greatest bromance in the history of television. Many shows have tried to duplicate the chemistry between J.D. and Turk over the years, but none have ever come close.
I put together the 20 obscure facts and interesting trivia about the show, really, as an excuse to show appreciation again for one of the best, funniest, and emotionally rich sitcoms of the modern era.
1. I think almost everyone agrees that, in a sea of amazing episodes, My Screw-Up is the best episode of the series. It’s actually the highest rated on IMDB, and TV.com gives it a 9.8 out of 10, while the episode also received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding writing (it lost to the Arrested Development pilot). The entire episode was an homage to Sixth Sense, and ended with Dr. Cox realizing that Ben (Ben Fraser) was already dead. If you watch it a second time, the point in which Ben dies becomes obvious. Early in the episode, Ben says he will take his camera with him everywhere he goes until the day he dies, and after a “patient” of Dr. Cox dies, Ben is no longer carrying the camera. This right here is probably the most emotionally powerful moment I can ever remember from a network sitcom.
2. The pilot episode, My First Day, is the only one of the series first eight seasons that’s not filmed in North Hollywood Medical Center (it was filmed in another hospital that has since been torn down). Also worth noting, in the pilot episode, which premiered in 2001, J.D. is wearing a Clone High T-shirt, inspired the another series created by Bill Lawrence. The only thing is, Clone High didn’t debut until 2002.
3. Speaking of North Hollywood Medical Center, the hospital where Scrubs was filmed: It was also home to earlier seasons of Children’s Hospital, and has been used in dozens of television shows, including The Sopranos, The Office, and Six Feet Under. It was demolished in mid-2011, however. There are now an apartment complexes in the location.
4. The title of the season three premiere is “My Own American Girl.” With a few exceptions, every episode title of Scrubs begins with “My.” Those exceptions are when other characters provide the narration (such as “His Story” and “Her Story”) and the final season (Scrubs 2.0), which all begin with the word “Our.” This particular episode title, however, is nod to Tom Petty’s song, American Girl. Years later, Bill Lawrence would create Cougar Town, and every single episode except two of that show is named after a Tom Petty song. Lawrence clearly loves Tom Petty.
5. I cannot say enough great things about the season six episode, My Musical, which was nominated for 5 Emmy awards. Unlike most Scrubs episodes (which are the product of the entire writers room), this one was written entirely by Deborah Fordham, who even wrote the lyrics to all the songs, although much of the music was composed by a member of The Blanks (more on The Blanks below). There was, unusually, a week-long rehearsal period, but the effort was worth it, as the episode was named by TV Guide as one of the best 100 episodes of all time. Bill Lawrence cited Buffy the Vampire Slayer as inspiration for the episode, although he cites Buffy as inspiration for several of the big episodes of Scrubs.
6. Ted’s band, The Worthless Peons, is an actual a capella band called The Blanks. Three of the members (including Sam Lloyd) formed the band after they met at Syracuse University. They have a lot of great songs in Scrubs, but “Hey Ya” may be my favorite. Many agree that the episode in which it was performed — the eighth season finale — should’ve been the series finale, but I have a soft spot for the ninth season’s Scrubs 2.0 year.
7. Bill Lawrence wrote both the season six finale and the season eight finales as series finales, thinking in both instances that the show wouldn’t be picked up. In the the eighth season finale, over 50 previous actors who had roles in the show returned, with three notable exceptions: Heather Graham declined for personal reasons, and Masi Oka of Heroes and Sarah Lancaster of Chuck, who were denied permission by NBC, despite the fact that Scrubs was an NBC show its first seven seasons.