While hospital procedurals are a perennially popular genre, ABC's sophomore medical drama, The Good Doctor about an autistic doctor with savant-syndrome based on the Korean series of the same name, has star Tamlyn Tomita crediting the show's inclusivity and diversity for its global success.
Tomita, who plays Allegra Aoki, chairperson and VP of the foundation that controls St. Bonaventure Hospital, told PopCulture.com she is in awe of how the show has sparked such a devoted following with viewers.
"I think we all knew that we had a good show, and we were all hoping for the best, of course," Tomita told PopCulture.com. "And we were thrilled every time we would come together in a room, especially with all the cast, just to see the rainbow of colors that were represented in our cast."
Freddie Highmore, Nicholas Gonzalez, Richard Schiff, Antonia Brown, Hill Harper, Fiona Gubbelman, Christina Chang, and Will Yun Lee are among the rainbow of stars helping create a more inclusive dialogue in a tough social climate — a roster Tomita also admits "all genuinely love each other."
"They are such a great cast," Tomita told PopCulture.com from the set of the Vancouver filmed series, adding how they are all very devoted to stories behind the subject matter. "[And] Freddie is so dedicated. He's such an old soul in a young man's body, I sometimes look at him, and I go, 'How do you know so much?' And it's because he really is generally, it sounds very cliché, an old soul."
In addition to airing in the States and being a ratings darling for ABC, the U.S. version of The Good Doctor airs in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy and the Netherlands — a feat Tomita is astounded by. As an outspoken advocate for persons and issues, the Karate Kid II and Joy Luck Club star sees the show as a great step toward increasing understanding and acceptance, especially on a global platform.
"[They're watching] not only in the States, but around the world, too and we're getting such wonderful responses," she said. "It's inspiring other countries to have inclusivity as a theme in a lot of their programming. It's sparking some interest in making it a valid argument to include people of color, include people who have, disabilities, and people who are just simply different; and we just look at each other all the same and just really value each other's gifts as well as weaknesses because we can all help each other get better."
Tomita added that the "writers are very conscientious" when it comes to writing interesting, real stories that relate to audiences everywhere, including all the aspects to developing a well-rounded autistic character.0comments
"We've had an individual who has autism, we've had actors who have autistics in their families, so they're coming from a place of experience, as well," Tomita continued. "So, it's in the air, it's in the room, it's in their minds, and it is in their hearts that autism needs to be portrayed with as much realism and authenticity as possible."
The Good Doctor airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.