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The Sun Always Shines on TV

(a-ha, 1985)

Continuing on the theme of How to Waste Time During a Pandemic Without Really Trying, I, for one, essentially took up full-time residence on the couch alongside my deaf, arthritic and arguably senile 20-year-old cat, turned on the television and caught up on all the high-quality programming that I had missed to date.     

While nothing can beat Jimmy Cagney, Mae Clarke and a big, juicy grapefruit in the morning (The Public Enemy, 1931), I did have opportunity to check out what had been produced since Flappers and Zoot Suits were all the rage.  My quest led me to numerous programs of a medical nature.  But these new shows were unlike those of yore such as Marcus Welby M.D., Quincy M.E. and even ER.   No, what’s on today involves real doctors, real patients and real procedures.  There is neither plot nor character development, other than how miserable, or how broke, a character must be to make him or her seek care with the eyes of the world looking on.   

Enter Dr. Sandra Lee, more commonly known as Dr. Pimple Popper.  Dr. Lee is a certified specialist of dermatology based in (you guessed it) Southern California.  She has over 5 million followers on YouTube.  Patients flock to her from across the country for treatment of some of the biggest and nastiest lesions one can conjure.  Prior to tuning in, I had no idea that lipomas even existed let alone knew that they can grow to the size of watermelons.  This is high quality education.  Or entertainment.  Actually, I’m not sure exactly what it is.

Say what you will about reality television, this doctor is a master of her craft. The show is obviously scripted but the patients’ suffering is legit.  Dr. Lee has excellent chairside manner and is an attentive listener.  Even when presented with the most self-evident deformity, she has the patient explain his or her predicament in his or her own words, instantly building rapport.  She outlines her findings clearly, provides a diagnosis and then proceeds to treatment.   Dr. Lee’s anesthesia is profound and she keeps her patients informed through light-hearted banter, continual comparison to various fragrant foodstuffs and an ever-present procedural play-by-play.  The finale includes a tidy scar, lots of specimen for biopsy and a warm hug from the patient.  Dr. Lee is no Fraulein Maria (The Sound of Music, 1965) but she’s an interesting study, particularly if one is a health care practitioner of some sort.

All of which got me thinking.  What Dr. Lee is doing is great for her and great for her patients, but the service she provides must be akin to what any well-trained dermatologist provides anywhere in the world. Dr. Lee and the TLC Network simply lifted the wrapper off the operatory and ‘popped’ it into living rooms across America. Wow. I can think of no better zero-fee, mega-impact Consumer Awareness Program for the profession of dermatology than that.  TLC has already moved on to podiatry.  Why couldn’t orthodontics be next?      

I can see it now.  “I Need to Smile Again; Orthodontics brought to you by TLC. Tune in weekly to see an orthodontic specialist tackle the gnarliest malocclusions one can only imagine.  Cue the camera:

Orthodontist:   Hello Ms. Jones, what can I do for you today? (He subtly inquired, obviously aware of the patient’s missing maxillary left canine and severely canted occlusal plane.)

Ms. Jones: (pointing) I have this tooth that never came in…

Orthodontist:   I see that, you poor thing.   You have what is commonly known as an IMPACTED CANINE.   We can fix that up for you.   We’ll put you into a set of braces and get to work on that right away.  In two years (more or less), you should have your tooth fully in place and a beautiful smile!

Ms. Jones:   I am so happy it can be fixed.

Orthodontist:   I’m happy for you too…give me a hug!

(Ms. Jones and the Orthodontist hug as the assistant sets up for bonding in the background)

I am going to work on this a bit.  If orthodontics can figure out a way to enter prime time, think of the potential.    All those things we say to patients on a daily basis will come to life for everyone to hear.  

“Little Johnny’s overbite won’t fix itself. He needs braces and a fixed functional appliance for that.”

“Unfortunately, Ms. Smith, for your open bite to remain closed, you need jaw surgery.”

And my favourite,

“No.  Sorry.  Direct-to-Consumer Aligners don’t correct dental midlines when one is born with an extra maxillary lateral incisor such as yourself.”  

There has to be a way to bring orthodontics to the tube.   Does the public have the appetite for a twenty four-part series, the highlight of which is the switch from 4 to 6 ounce interarch elastics?   Probably not. How about the correction of a bilateral crossbite with an implant-supported rapid palatal expander?  Maybe. No, let’s go with the early removal of fixed appliances because of horrible oral hygiene. For sure!  The grosser the better.  There has to be more to entertainment than cysts, carbuncles and bunions.  

Because, you know, There [really is] No Business Like Show Business (Irving Berlin, 1954)!

Jimmy P