Scrubs is a show centered around the interactions of title character “J.D.” (John Dorian) and the relationships and various challenges he faces at Hospital “Sacred heart”. The story spans the course of eight seasons (we don’t talk about the Ninth). The story picks up with J.D. as an intern, then a resident, then a fully fledged doctor. It goes without saying that interpersonal relationships are important to the structure of any show, however in the instance of a show such as Scrubs the relationships are the center point of the show. Scrubs left it to shows like E.R. to deal with the crises that occur in a hospital. Scrubs gets its content from the interactions that occur between crises. The purpose of this post is to analyze the relationships and how they develop over the course of the show of Scrubs. Many of the relationships in Scrubs could be considered “Gendered”, personally I find them a pretty accurate representation of how a lot of communication breaks down. Perhaps that’s because I as a person always assume that people act independently of their gender, that it’s just as reasonable for a female to go through the same problems J.D. does. Or for a male to be as supportive as Elliot or Carla. The point being made is pretty simple, Scrubs has a lot of relationships that are a lot more complex than they first seem. However as a show built around the in between Crises interactions of the characters there are A L O T of relationships to cover. So to save time, and characters, I’m going to be breaking down the four relationships that are core to the show. These are
the J.D. - Turk relationship
The J.D. - Elliot Relationship
The J.D. - Dr. Cox relationship
The J.D. Carla Relationship.
Diving right in we’ll start with J.D. Turk
J.D. Turk is probably the most central to the plot. This can only be argued by the fact that J.D. and Elliot have an “on again, off again” romantic plotline going. However that plotline picks up maybe once mid way through season one and is resolved immediately in the next episode. This means that the focus on J.D.’s friends is their ability to support him.
Christopher Turk, we found out, has been J.D.’s best friend since college. It can best be described as a bromance, but the song ‘guy love’ explains their relationship in so much greater detail.
While it’s unfair to pull something so iconic and well known as a staple for this comment it’s the best demonstration of their friendship. Their relationship borders on ‘homoerotic’ which in all seasons and which of them is being more ‘guy lovey’ is constantly bouncing back and forth. In the first season it’s Turk, in the next is J.D. They’re total bros. The audience gets a feel that Turk and J.D. have that once in a lifetime kind of friendship, that they’ll always have each others back. This is exemplified in the first season seen here.
J.D. - Elliot
J.D. and Elliots relationship is largely platonic. While there is a pursuit towards romance it’s largely glanced over in the course of the show. Elliot is ultimately portrayed as supportive towards J.D. it’s not long after their short lived romance that Elliot and J.D. make up and opt to remain friends. Their relationship is often times the “butt of the joke”. Rather coming up as part of the humor, or coming as part of their own individual story arcs Elliot and JD’s relationship can almost be summarized into about five minutes of clips.
It’s like a game of cat and mouse, one constantly chasing the other. The words: “The world was in your hand and you squeezed” are epitomized with J.D. and Elliot. They make decisions that end up hurting one another, they get angry and they support each other. The humor between them is often derived from the conflict they have about their dysfunctional relationship.
That being said, in the end they always seem to just...do it again. Culimating in one of the most memorable on and off again relationships.
J.D. - Cox
There is a gold mine of material for comedy here, where the relationships between J.D. and Turk and J.D. Elliot were supportive. Where the humor is drawn from the relationship of the character. The humor between J.D. and Dr. Cox is almost entirely at J.D.’s expense. Here’s eight minutes of Dr. Cox calling J.D. various girls names just for emphasis.
Eight minutes of only the girl names Dr. Cox has referred to J.D. as, but their relationship is far from antagonistic. Dr. Cox is the father figure in J.D.’s life, the person he wants to respect him. Cox is the mentor in the show and his “tough love” attitude is the source of exorbitant amounts of humor when it comes to J.D. He’s also the moral compass, and J.D.’s only real critic, he’s a source of a lot of realism and in his own way he does support J.D. his ‘speeches’ often give J.D. more direction than the advice of his own friends.
He’s the teacher, and he never stops teaching, in a way it’s easy to see what J.D. admired in Dr. Cox in scenes like the one above.
But it’s scenes like these that we just can’t resist:
J.D. - Carla
J.D. and Carla’s relationship is, odd…
It’s motherly at parts, but they’re also like siblings. Carla is comforting and enabling where Cox is...well Cox. Carla is in a lot of ways J.D.’s lifeline, we don’t see J.D.’s mother a lot and Carla is the most motherly character towards him. Affectionately nicknaming him “Bambi”, Carla guides him through his time as an intern and even more than that her role in J.D.’s personal life is the order brought to the chaos of his and Turks friendship. She truly is the moral compass, a little humor is drawn from her hispanic background…
but Carla also has some of the most sincere moments of the show. Her relationship with J.D. while not as humorous as the others definitely is the most flushed out.
There is one more relationship I wanted to talk about in conclusion to this project.
That is the relationship that is most central to the plot.
The J.D. - J.D. Relationship.
The story of Scrubs is about J.D. and is told often through his own daydreams where he is shown to interact with himself. I said earlier that Cox is J.D.’s biggest critic and that is true, in the beginning J.D. is arrogant in a realistic sense and then grows to be full him and needs the others to bring him back down. Even so his day dreams and inner monologues reflect his view of himself and the world around him.
He’s human, you see him go from an unconfident intern, to a confident doctor totally comfortable with everything about his identity. When he falters he picks himself up with the help of friends. He’s not a bad character, the moments where he’s unlikeable he made a human mistake that anyone could make and instantly works to earn back that trust.
J.D.’s relationship with himself is turbulent and his self identity falters from on top of the world to a side kick in his own fantasies.
Still J.D. is the title character, he’s the one the story is about.
Despite his ups and downs, and the run time of the story. His part in scrubs ends on what definitely could be considered the most realistic high note.