The prognosis is good for ABC's The Good Doctor, the No. 1 new TV series this fall.
The show returns in January and Tamlyn Tomita told PopCulture.com the cast and crew is "really hopeful" it will be renewed for a second season.
"Just to know that we have one of the highest-rated programs of the season, it really humbled me," she said, "and I can say, I think it does humble the writers, the creative staff as well as the cast, because it makes us want to work harder, because we know we're expected to be a good show."
Tomita plays Allegra Aoki, the chairman and vice president of the foundation that runs St. Bonaventure Hospital, told PopCulture.com that she knew immediately the people behind the feel-good drama were special.
"My first impression was how incredibly kind everybody was, especially the cast," she said. "I think it was something that [executive producers] Daniel Dae Kim and David Shore were very interested in assembling, because the subject is sensitive," Tomita said. "It's vulnerable. It's something that really makes people feel and think, and think and feel."
She said Kim and Shore were "conscientious" of who they brought onto the project that turned into a breakout. "I think they were very conscientious in assembling a crew and a cast and a set of producers and creators, writers, who were kind and good-hearted," she said.
The show centers around Freddie Highmore's character, Dr. Shaun Murphy, a pediatric surgeon diagnosed with autism and savant syndrome. As Dr. Murphy learns more about the everyday decisions he must make in his position, his co-workers learn more about interacting with someone on the autism spectrum.
"We have to learn alongside Dr. Shaun Murphy as much as Dr. Shaun Murphy has to learn how to navigate in the neurotypical/the normal world," Tomita says.
More specifically, the characters and viewers at home learn that someone like Dr. Murphy, who also has savant syndrome, is not representative of every person with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), something Tomita says is one of the most redeeming aspects of the show.
"We can't forget that because he's not representative of everyone who has autism," Tomita explains. "It's to show that he's just a different kind of person. He's a different kind of human being."
The 51-year-old Asian American actress says the diversity of the cast is important in crafting a culturally significant show.
"If you look at our cast, the cast being so diverse is another way of looking at things, because especially in middle America, there are a lot of people who probably have not met an Asian person or a Latino person or an African American person," Tomita says.
"We get to learn alongside the characters how to treat each other better and being different doesn't mean that we have to be afraid of them or think of them as odd or cater to them. It's just that we just need to listen a little bit closer and open up our hearts a little bit more," Tomita said.
"We have to keep everybody on their toes, and know that it's not always going to be smooth sailing, that rough sailing through the seas, through the waters, makes for a more interesting trip, a much more interesting journey. To keep the audience on its toes while actually getting to know more about these people because they're going through trials and tribulations, it makes for a better story. We're just really thankful."
Photo credit: Tomitaiane Hentscher/ABC