Sexual harassment is going under the knife on The Good Doctor.
In Monday’s mid-season finale episode of ABC’s breakout medical procedural (10 ET/PT), which has surpassed This Is Us as the highest-rated network drama this fall, surgical resident Claire Browne (Antonia Thomas) encounters a new doctor who is more insidious than she first realizes.
“He’s very friendly from the beginning, and there’s a sense of confusion from Claire’s point of view from the start as to what his intentions are,” says Freddie Highmore, who stars as Claire’s colleague Shaun Murphy, an autistic savant. “It reflects the struggle of so many women in the workplace, of potentially feeling guilty or responsible, and hopefully reaching that point of Claire realizing she’s done nothing wrong.”
“It’s a big episode, and it’s extremely current,” Thomas adds. “It’s a huge learning curve for Claire, and she has to really dig deep to find the courage to deal with that situation. I think it will resonate a lot with women, especially in the current climate.”
The timely episode, titled “Sacrifice,” was written before the scores of sexual abuse allegations against Hollywood power players made headlines, starting with mega-producer Harvey Weinstein in October. But accusers’ stories did have an impact on the Good Doctor cast and creator David Shore while shooting.
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“The more I read, the more I wanted to make sure we were honest with it all,” says Shore, who shepherded another hospital hit with Fox’s House starring Hugh Laurie. “We’re exploring the insidiousness of subtle harassment in the workplace. Unfortunately, the nature of this sort of harassment is that there are men who are very well-versed in walking the line in deniability, but who are threats and predators just the same. It makes it harder on the women involved to know what to do and how to handle it.”
The episode also throws a wrench into the relationship between Shaun and Dr. Glassman (Richard Schiff), Shaun’s surrogate dad and mentor who helped get him the job at the hospital. Despite being his constant champion, Glassman encourages Shaun to go to therapy, which he stubbornly opposes.
“He refuses the suggestion and Glassman refuses to back off, and it…