New Amsterdam continues to go full-steam ahead in addressing all types of issues, and so far, it’s making this season the best to date.
Every installment, includingNew Amsterdam Season 3 Episode 7, feels like every person involved has poured their heart and soul into the work. They’re leaving it all out there for our consumption like an exposed nerve.
We’re halfway through the season, and it feels the most personal, and it’s such a unique viewing experience.
One of the best aspects of the season thus far is Max faces long-standing, systemic issues beyond his depth that aren’t solvable in 45 minutes or less. It’s OK not having all the answers or a quick solution or fix.
It’s more realistic that way. Sometimes, what exceeds that is presenting issues, scenarios, and realities, putting a spotlight on them, providing awareness.
They’ve exchanged some of the series’ idealism with realism while maintaining the signature hopeful tone we desperately need now more than ever.
They also balance each installment out, so we’re not shorted out of the character development or diversified medical storylines for the sake of the “issue of the week” formula.
The hour focusing on bigoted medical regulations and homophobia, brilliantly drawing parallels of the HIV Epidemic of the ’80s and how it ravaged the gay community with the current pandemic, was sublime storytelling.
It was not unlike personal musings I had during the height of quarantine after bingeing Pose for the first time.
George Helms received high honors and accolades for his work as the Director of New Amsterdam 30 years ago, as the hospital celebrated National HIV Testing Day, and one defaced photo led Max on a heartrending journey addressing the homophobia of the past and how it’s still everpresent.
Max: You’re a hero.
Andre: Yet you honor the man who made me a coward. The world is burning, Dr. Goodwin. And yet you track me down for defacing a photograph? Shame then. Shame now.
Helms was a dick. In his prime at the hospital, New Amsterdam turned its back on those who were HIV+ at a time when it was only considered a disease that affected the LGBTQ community.
Helms turned his back as people died. And the revelation that he THREW OUT blood he knew was safe because of who gave it was enraging beyond words.
Max got caught up in the defacement, but instead, he got a history lesson on New Amsterdam’s dark past. Howie was an icon and a legend, and his brash, unapologetic spirit and the fact that he was still fighting for Gay rights all these years later made him an instant scene-stealer.
But Andre, he gave you chills. His quiet indictment of Helms and admonishment of Max was one of a handful of powerful moments of the hour.
Iggy: I think it’s time that I start to feel like I’m good enough on my own. I want to look in this mirror, and I want to see someone good enough.
Martin: You are more than good enough. You’re beautiful.
As the head of the blood bank and a gay man, he watched his friends and family die because of bigoted practices and regulations.
He was helpless to stop any of it. People he loved needed blood, and he couldn’t even donate because of who he loved and had sex with, and the read of the century was in Andre pointing out that it’s still an issue now.
The series just addressed the nationwide blood shortage. How absurd is it that when we need blood, we’re still excluding an entire population of healthy individuals who can give it?
The Blood Ban is horrific and bigoted, and we’re 30 years later essentially fighting the same battle and having the same conversations in ways beyond simply donating blood.
Andre and Howie were the heroes that deserved recognition, but like many, fell into the shadows for the likes of people like Helms.
Max will catch hell for what he did if anyone finds out, but what a beautiful way to honor Howie and Andre and so many others.
Elsewhere, Floyd and Lauren were butting heads with another situation involving homophobia. It was disheartening to hear Kwame speak about suppressing his urges or how he turned his back on God for having sex with a man.
His Elder went from genuine concern for Kwame to disowning him and threatening to send him back because of his HIV status. It reaffirmed how, for decades, and still now, many people viewed HIV as punishment for succumbing to gay urges or something.
The layers to this installment ran deep.
That’s why I stole the New Amsterdam seal. That’s why I encased it in a giant condom, and that’s why I am never giving it back.
Floyd was appalled by how Kwame spoke of his mission and his sexuality, but he also was willing to help Kwame shove himself back into the closet for the sake of helping him.
It’s understandable why Lauren was outraged by this. It still feels like Lauren’s display of sympathy and allyship could come from another place, and it would not surprise me if the series explores Lauren’s sexuality.
It’s incredible how much the hour addressed; we also had some emotional content from Iggy.
I love that an hour that devoted so much time to the homophobia of the past and present, opened with an intimate love scene between Iggy and Martin.
They are one of the best romantic relationships of this series, and it felt essential that this particular installment followed Iggy home to his husband, where the shame in their intimacy wasn’t their sexuality but Iggy’s ongoing battle with body dysmorphia.
I cannot lavish enough praise onto Tyler Labine, who is easily the MVP of the season. It feels redundant gushing this much, but the series is allowing this storyline to breathe and flow naturally at its own pace.
Iggy’s refusal to be intimate with Martin with the lights on was heartbreaking. His stripping his clothes in front of the full mirror, expressing why and how he needs to accept that he’s enough, and carrying on with sex with the lights on was such a powerful moment for him and his journey.
Iggy did look to Kapoor for validation, and Kapoor was like the father that Iggy needed, so it was natural that he wouldn’t react well to Kapoor’s resignation.
Ella: That’s what you do, Dr. Frome, you just go around saving souls.
Iggy: Well, I learned from the best.
Kapoor didn’t tell him directly, and it was hurtful beyond words for him. Iggy immediately jumps to the worst conclusion and spirals into self-flagellation and anger.
I’m so glad Ella called him back and explained what was going on. Kapoor survived COVID, but he’s not and won’t ever be in a place where he can practice again, and that’s not something someone like Kapoor can accept with ease.
It was too painful for him to return to the hospital and speak to his colleagues. It’s a bittersweet way to write off the actor, who has stepped away from the series to take care of his ailing wife, but it does work for the series.
Tying it into Iggy’s ongoing arc, which is rife with pain but also feels as if a breakthrough is on the horizon, works out well. I’m going to miss Kapoor, though.
Helen has her hands full with her niece. She needs to establish some boundaries and stop trying to be a friend and a cool aunt.
Helen and Lauren working together is always great, and their relationship is underrated. Lauren was the perfect person to give Helen advice on the topic.
Helen’s tough love with her patient and that morgue comment was fantastic. The woman was acting as if HIV was a common cold or something.
Luna is ADORABLE. And she’s a hellraiser just like her daddy, running around like a madwoman. The leash was hysterical.
Max does need help, and it’s a good thing he reached out to Georgia’s mother. Luna spent damn near a year with her grandparents, so it’s natural that her biting and acting out was because of her missing them and adjusting.
As brutal as Evie’s phone call with Floyd was, she’s not wrong about their relationship.
Floyd does seem like he has a lot going on and not enough people checking in on him.
I know I’m a grown woman and everything, but can Iggy and Martin adopt me?
It’s still odd that Max and Helen have so much going on in their personal lives, but they’re not checking in or confiding with each other as much as they would. On the one hand, it cuts down on their codependency, but on the other hand, it also cuts down on their genuine friendship, too.
Over to you, New Amsterdam Fanatics. Let’s discuss all the things below! I’ll be waiting.
You can watch New Amsterdam online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.