Most TV shows that revolve around medical professionals have to, at one point or other, deal with the Hippocratic oath—that binding agreement that, in part, ensures that all caregivers put aside moral judgment in the pursuit of helping a patient.
For the EMTs of Sirens that means bringing an alleged mobster back from the brink after he has a heart attack, and, in the case of Hank, helping Packers QB Aaron Rodgers with a dislocated finger on his throwing hand right before the 2010 NFC Championship Game that knocked the Bears out of the playoffs. Those are the tough calls you have to swallow for the sake of your job.
Really, the whole incident with the gangster, Jimmy O’Shea (played by Sopranos alum Steve Schirripa), was a jumping off point to discuss the possibility of people changing their habits as adults. And it’s a great setup for comedic set pieces like Brian’s long, moralizing speech to O’Shea about changing his eating habits—O’Shea’s right hand man, Fat Eddie: “Yeah, boss, eat from the rainbow”; Brian: “And you know what’s at the end of that rainbow? Health.”—and a great Sideshow Bob vs. the rakes type moment in the rig with all three of the EMTs repeating the word “gauze” in an attempt to help Hank soften his tone.
There’s no great moral to any of this. Even O’Shea admits he’s well beyond change, but is only going to make a token effort to make Fat Eddie happy. As I know I’ve talked about in the past, Sirens is a deviously subversive sitcom like that. They realized long ago that there’s little need for the usual conflict/resolution arc that almost all other half-hours resort to.
There’s no doubt that that formula can work, but I much prefer watching shows like this, It’s Always Sunny, The League, and others work around it instead. Name me another sitcom on TV right now that would hold for so long on that ridiculous conversation in the ambulance with grown men saying the same word over and over again. Okay, so there’s probably a bunch of them out there, but those are the ones that are already dominating the comedy conversation. As I’ve repeated within these pages, Sirens deserves to be part of that discussion.
Robert Ham is a Portland-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.