Scheduled to air this fall, NBC’s new drama Heartbreaker partly seems like a straight-faced homage to Grey’s Anatomy, partly like a really lame stab at a female-led Scrubs, and partly like self-parody. Its protagonist is Dr. Alex Panttiere, played by Melissa George. She’s a heart surgeon. But she’s not just any heart surgeon—she’s a female heart surgeon.
“There are only a few female heart transplant surgeons in the world. She is one of them,” on-screen text informs us, as Panttiere introduces herself to a pack of suited bro-doctors. “What does someone like you love to do in her spare time?” one of the broctors asks smugly, in no way setting up a canned retort.
“I like long walks on the beach, hot bubble baths, and the sound of cracking a patient’s chest open like a lobster.” Get it, gurl.
This is not your average ladydoctor. If you’re thinking that she reminds you of many other female TV doctors, perhaps fellow good-at-work-bad-at-life ladydoctor Emily Owens from the short-lived Emily Owens MD, ask yourself: Did Owens ever confirm that she spits on people when she talks? Because Panttiere just did.
Seconds after a well executed in-motion handshake, the trailer cuts to a man committing suicide in front of Panttiere so his sister can have his heart. But the heart gets tied up in what we must assume is classic hospital-drama bureaucratic limbo. But Panttiere won’t follow your stupid rules. Instead, she bangs a window, yelling, “I’m not leaving without my heart!” as if drunkenly harassing McDonald’s employees for some 2 a.m. ketchup.
But needless to say, the central question must be answered: Can she save people’s lives without sacrificing her own (love) life? Looks like the struggle is real: Cut to a scruffy love interest urging, “I want you to figure out what you want,” before they make out in formalwear mid-hospital. And it’s about here when that soulful, self-serious rock ballad kicks in over some doctor stuff, giving us the first clue that this show, alas, is not a joke.