It makes sense that those working in the TV show and entertainment industry would want to pay homage to the influences that helped them get there. The fun for viewers is getting to see these little nods or sometimes all-out imitations play out across different genres and eras to create a patchwork of pop culture references.
Whether that’s a Gilmore Girl making reference to The Godfather when she ditches an ex-boyfriend’s things or the actors in The Sweetest Thing playing out the snapping jewelry box scene from Pretty Woman, these moments of appreciation give fans a fun treasure hunt.
Scrubs was a comedy medical show famous for its metafictional habit of breaking the fourth wall and bringing in goofy references. It even once dedicated an entire episode that paid homage to a classic thriller.
‘Scrubs’ ran for nine seasons
Scrubs premiered in 2001 and centered around two medical interns who are getting their careers started at the fictional hospital Sacred Heart. J.D. Dorian and Christopher Turk were on-screen friends portrayed by real-life BFFs Zach Braff and Donald Faison, respectively.
If a show that centers around the climb up the ladder from residency to higher spots in the medical field sounds familiar, it’s worth noting that — while the general plots share many similarities — Scrubs is not much like Grey’s Anatomy or any other medical drama on the air. It’s goofy, irreverent, and comedic, setting it apart from the similarly-themed shows that center their appeal in suspense and tears.
That’s not to say that Scrubs shies away from the real-life drama of medicine, however. In fact, actual doctors have noted that Scrubs is more accurate in its depiction of hospital life than the more serious shows. Doctors who really did have to make it through medical internships say that even the silliest moments of the show had some elements of truth that really resonated with them.
‘Scrubs’ was a quirky show
The series enjoyed a long run that saw many of the original cast members change positions and relationships and introduced several new characters over the years. One thing that remained consistent, though, was its quirks.
J.D. provided the narration for the show, so viewers usually saw things through his eyes — with a few notable exceptions. His bizarre daydreams were a frequent feature. The show may have covered some truly serious topics, but it never took itself too seriously, and the recurring inside jokes, meta references, and bizarre relationships between the characters helped give it personality and charm.
It also dipped heavily into pop culture references. One of J.D.’s daydream sequences had basically every character recast as a Star Wars reference. As Dr. Cox and Dr. Kelso battled for J.D.’s trust, he imagined the pair as Obi-Wan and Darth Vader with light sabers.
One ‘Scrubs’ episode paid a creepy film homage
In Season 3, Scrubs‘ pop culture references took a creepy turn as they paid homage to the classic thriller The Sixth Sense in what would become one of the show’s most memorable and tear-jerking episodes.
“My Screwup” according to IMDb is the 14th episode of Season 3, and it revolves around Jack’s (Dr. Cox’s son’s) first birthday. Ben, who is Dr. Cox’s brother-in-law and best friend portrayed by Brendan Fraser, comes into town for the party. Dr. Cox is on a bit of a tirade at the hospital, blaming J.D. for a patient’s death and working around the clock for days on end because he feels like people die when he’s not around to oversee things.
Ben follows his friend around as he works tirelessly, and viewers get to see the love and joy in their relationship even through Dr. Cox’s frustration.
Meanwhile, the other characters are seen in the background off and on, and they’re each getting dressed in somber, formal clothing. Eventually, Dr. Cox and Ben go to Jack’s party, and Dr. Cox realizes he’s underdressed compared to the other attendees. That’s when J.D. asks him where he thinks he is as the camera pans away.
When it pans back, Ben is no longer there, and Dr. Cox realizes he is at Ben’s funeral. Ben had not survived his leukemia after all, and it was his own best friend’s death that had Dr. Cox struggling to accept he could not control everything. Just like The Sixth Sense, viewers were led to believe that a character was alive who was actually dead, and only one other character could see the deceased person.
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