“Scrubs” is a sitcom about the life of medical-intern J.D., he narrates each episode; summarizing the story’s message. The episode I will be analyzing is “My Own American Girl”; the setting is at Sacred Heart hospital. I will prove the two underlying messages are communicated by: independence leads to improvement, altering your appearance raises self-esteem and adapting to change leads to opportunities.
The first message is, “If you are unhappy then change yourself”; shown through Elliot (J.D.’s friend). To elaborate, Elliot is a meek, messy looking blonde girl that has bad luck; her new car gets damaged and then she runs into her ex-boyfriend, Sean who has a new girlfriend.
The effect of the first event (the car), impacts the latter (Sean), to make Elliot feel worthless; these events force her to realize she needs to change herself to turn her life around. She thinks to herself, “So you just gonna give up like you always do? Or get mad and do something about it?” (Scrubs. Elliot. Bill Lawrence. 2003). Her resolution is to get a makeover, the outcome of this decision gives her confidence; she returns to the hospital to stand up to an aggressive co-worker from earlier in the episode. This shows the positive results of being independent; by making the decisions to improve herself, she became a stronger person, as well her self-esteem rose because she improved her physical appearance. This matters because “Scrubs” implies women are only confident when they look attractive; this is the show’s one negative message that lacks coherence. The show’s message also relates back to the title, “My Own American Girl”; Elliot is the “American Girl” showing what it means to be “American”. A core value in America is freedom; the right to be an autonomous person, which the episode stresses the importance of. Elliot’s character implies independence comes from choosing to change yourself which will make you a better person, this change includes appearances which also leads to boosting confidence.
The second message “change is an opportunity”, focuses on J.D. In his narration he suggests there is a point in everyone’s life when there are no more surprises. However, from the very beginning of the episode changes are happening. Dr. Cox (J.D.’s superior) who he goes to for all his problems, is too busy to help J.D. with his patient. Instead of seeing the situation as an opportunity to find the answer by himself he asks his friends for help. He realizes though, “even when you put all your heads together sometimes you still can’t find the answer.” (Scrubs. J.D. Bill Lawrence. 2003). J.D. is a tall, lanky, dark haired goofy character; interpreted as incompetent. He discards the chance to prove he can rely on himself; his inability to change as a result gives him trouble diagnosing his patient.
The intended audience is eighteen to twenty-nine. J.D. and Elliot are relatable to the audience; young adults dealing with pressure from work and struggling to grow up. The story is consistent because the setting (hospital) and characters (medical staff) are connected to each other; the story is valid to the viewer. The moral of this episode of “Scrubs” could influence young adults to believe success comes from self-reliance, being physically attractive and adapting to change.
Lawrence, Bill, dir. “My Own American Girl.” Scrubs. NBC. 02 Oct. 2003. Television.
My Own American Girl (Elliot’s New Look). Bill Lawrence. YouTube. YouTube, 22 Apr. 2007. Web. 24 Jan. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7aA2JZz1p6Q>.
“My Own American Girl-Scrubs Wiki.” Scrubs Wiki. Wikipedia, 02 Oct. 2003. Web Image. 24 Jan. 2013. <http://images.wikia.com/scrubs/image/5/5d/My_Own_American_Girl.png>.
Here is a link to watch the full episode: