When The Good Doctor premiered its fourth season this past November, the groundbreaking series opened with a two-part episode chronicling the realities the world is facing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Thrust onto the frontlines, the episodes picked up on the early days of the pandemic when little was known about the coronavirus. While the episodes were fictional accounts about a real battle being fought in hospitals across the world, the relevance and realism is something series star Christina Chang tells PopCulture.com took its own toll on the cast and crew.
"In a word, it was meta," Chang said in our series, PopCulture @ Home. "We were in the pandemic still, as we still are. So experiencing that in our daily lives and then coming to set — of course, the protocols they have in place are fantastic, and so we're all masked and gowned there and then on camera, masked and gowned and living, telling the stories of what a lot of people globally were experiencing and continue to experience."
The actress, known for playing Dr. Audrey Lim, the Chief of Surgery of San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital, calls the whole experience "surreal" and something that challenged so many involved with the series. "We were happy and grateful to be working, really grateful to the production, their ability to pull this off and have us tested so much and have all the gear we needed, the PPE gear. But at the same time, it was heartbreaking," she said. "There were emotional storylines. We had to say goodbye to an actress that we loved, who played [Nurse Deena Petringa] — Karin Konoval's her name. So we lost her in it, and so that was hard. But also telling these stories, knowing that these are true stories that we're telling was also heartbreaking."
The two parts of the episode, "Frontline" examined the exhaustion, anxiety and frustration that comes along with medical workers at the frontlines of the pandemic. The first part received some of its highest ratings with 9.35 million viewers, with the second raking in 9.07 million viewers. But as the show continues to win over fans with its emotionally charged storylines, Chang shares how she is blown away by the reception from viewers, new and old who not only love the show but her character — especially the many who are pursuing medicine and look up to her character, Dr. Lim as a beacon of hope and light.
"It's unbelievable. It is humbling, and I am inspired by that," Chang said. "I got to meet one of [the fans] over a Zoom thing that we did for something else, and she is in school right now. When you get to talk to them or have an interaction over social media with them, I am so flattered — let's just put it that way. I'm so glad that Lim is being written this way and that I get to fill those shoes. It's an honor."
The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC; check your local listings. For more with Christina, the show and all your favorite stars, stay tuned to PopCulture.com for the latest.