On a recent routine sweep of my film and tv show streaming platforms, I came across the series the Imperial Coroner. With my first rotation of residency being autopsy, I viewed the moment as propitious to watch a fictionalized account of my predecessors. While containing many of the classics of the period romance genre, it also brought to bear a number of issues which impact medicine today.
There are several points to recommend the series. For those interested in forensics, the series’ “case of the week” approach offers several interesting forensic mysteries. Where the Imperial Coroner truly stands out, however, is in the examination of issues which continue to be relevant, particularly to women in medicine. This is in large part due to its female-led screenplay writing team, one of whom wrote the novel which serves as base material. At the heart of the story is the effort of the female lead character to earn a job as the eponymous imperial coroner. Despite her standout skills and the examination being open to all qualified applicants, almost everyone is dismissive of her potential. Even her family, who has served as coroners for generations, is not wholly supportive of her efforts.
Additionally, another issue addressed in the series is the challenge of working with one’s spouse. Given that 25% of female physicians in the United States are married to fellow physicians, the importance of these types of conversations has not diminished.
As a Chinese drama, this is one of the best of 2021. Though, as a medical series, the medical content drops off precipitously with the exception of the challenges of professional life as a female physician.
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