Medical shows often fall into one of two camps (not counting soap operas, but seriously who counts soap operas?). They tend to either focus heavily on the mystery of disease and the solving of a difficult case - House for instance - or they're simply situational dramas - Grey's Anatomy, ugh. In this sense, Scrubs is completely unique. It jumps from sitcom to drama to mystery, sometimes hitting all bases in the course of a single episode. And this versatility is what makes it so powerful. Now let me be the Dr. Cox to your J.D and tell you why, Dorothy.
1. It doesn't get old
As much as I love House, the show doesn't age like a fine wine but rather like rancid meat for me. While I judge people who disapprove of shows due to them being formulaic, House was too formulaic even for my tastes. The show starts, victim goes down, theme song, panorama of hospital, House walks into room, blah blah blah snarky comments, doesn't want the case, wants the case, argues with Cuddy, does what he wants, saves the day, still unhappy. There, now you don't have to watch the show. Thank me later.
Ok fine, I oversimplified a bit. But the problem can also be found in other medical shows including the Show Which Must Not Be Named as I'll be referring to Grey's Anatomy going forward, SWMNBNA for short. Hm that's a terrible acronym, how about SWIM'N BeNama? Nope, we're going back to Grey's. As much as it pains me to say this, however, the problem isn't with Grey's, or with House. Rather, the problem is with trying to stretch a one-dimensional show over 40 minutes of time.
Scrubs on the other hand clocks in with an episode length of only 20 minutes. I like to picture the comparison of Scrubs and a show like House to spreading peanut butter on a piece of bread where said bread is the underlying formula of a show, the size of the bread represents episode length, peanut butter represents the show content, and the bread is sourdough which represents my insatiable love for sourdough bread. We start with the same amount of peanut butter for both shows. As the bread (time) gets larger, the peanut butter (or content) starts to wear thin. In Scrubs' case, the bread (time) is small enough that we never really get a glimpse of the underlying grain and can dig in to a gooey, satisfying peanut butter sandwich. House on the other hand just doesn't have enough peanut butter to cover the whole piece of bread with an adequate layer and we see the underlying bread (formula) poking through. To formalize this statement:
Sandwich Quality = (PB Amount / Bread Size) + Sourdough
The Tl;Dr of the above is simply that of course Scrubs follows a formula, it's just less obtuse than other shows and is spread over a smaller slice of bread, thereby making for a delicious PB sandwich.
2. The cast
Zach Braff and Donald Faison are best friends in real life and they act exactly like J.D and Turk. Need I say more? If you don't believe me just check out this Reddit AMA. Some highlights from the aforementioned link:
Zach: Braff here. Is it true that your penis is so large that several times it has been mistaken as an eel?
Donald: yes this is true.
Zach: What do you like more; Weed or Oxygen?
Donald: i need both to live.
Zach: Have you ever drag-raced a Lambo on pills in Miami?
Donald: No. dude come on.
Seriously, check out that link. Hilarious.
3. Perry Ulysses Cox
No elaboration needed.
4. Incredible Writing
It's a hackneyed description, but hell it fits too perfectly not to be said so YOLO. More than any show I've ever seen, Scrubs will leave you vacillating between laughter and tears. Go and watch or re-watch My Last Words or My Screw Up or the series finale, My Finale (no, we don't count the disgrace that was Season 9). The incredible thing about these episodes is how quickly the tone can shift without seeming forced. Dr. Cox goes from hilariously sarcastic to genuine or J.D from aloof to empathetic in just a few seconds, yet it still feels natural. No other show has been able to create these transitions as transparently and smoothly before or since.
Now all that's left is to make this weekend a Scrubs weekend. Get a PB sandwich, plop in front of the TV, switch on Netflix, and watch the greatest medical show ever created.