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Scrubs: The Importance of a Good Soundtrack

For those of you living under a rock, Scrubs was a comedy surrounding the humorous yet complex daily lives of its eccentric staff and patients. It ran for 8 wonderful seasons and then attempted a spin-off-esque travesty that I will not be discussing or even acknowledging the existence of. Whilst many people would applaud Scrubs for its novel storylines, its complex and intricate characterisation and its continuous off-beat humour throughout its long lifespan, I personally think it is the soundtrack of the show that causes it to stand out.

Nowadays it is common for soundtracks to be released and often be as, if not more, popular than the movie itself as can be seen in the popularity of the Suicide Squad soundtrack. It can also be used for promotional purposes, to increase the name of stars attached to a project such as in the case of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. However, it is often different for TV shows; music compliments the tone and plot of the series and is sometimes responsible for the introduction of new artists, as was common in popular TV drama One Tree Hill. In fact, the theme song of a TV show often defines the show itself and some songs even gain further popularity after being used as a theme song such as I’ll Be There For You or the Dandy Warhols’ We Used To Be Friends.

The theme song of Scrubs is a musical representation of the series as the lyrics are describing the trials and tribulations faced by everyone during their daily lives and the series explores this through a variety of characters and humour. However, in contrast to other series, scenes in Scrubs become defined by the songs that are used in them, become memorable moments of the show itself as if they have been interwoven into the series as another character. The scene becomes more complex and more defined through this music and I have chosen two instances when the series has used music the most effectively.

Yes, everyone usually refers to the critically acclaimed, Emmy nominated episode when JD changes the medium of the show into a musical in order to be able to cope with the death of a patient. This episode is an excellent example of the show itself; interjecting light hearted moments and physical comedy in order to explain and better understand difficult and dark concepts, such as death.

However, I would like to explore two other episodes when I thought music elevated the standard of Scrubs from a regular series to a timeless exploration of the human condition. Colin Hay first appears in a series when he follows the main character, JD, around singing. He is the first musician to be in the show itself and acknowledged by other characters. Whilst the audience is aware of the tension between the characters at this point in the series, the deep and serious words of Hay’s song mingle with the comedy performed by the actors to create a greater sense of what is occurring in the song. It is one of the first times Scrubs uses music to create a greater layer to the story and does so effectively, invoking a kaleidoscope of emotions within the viewer. Similarly, most fans are familiar with the finale of the series when JD sees his entire life play out to the sound of The Book of Life by Peter Gabriel. Again, the show runners have found a song that perfectly embody the essence of the series and causes the viewer to consider their own life, future and the fear and excitement caused by the unknown. In that moment we feel JD’s emotions, his future becomes our future and we have suddenly reached a level of maturity along with him.

Many series are popular for their use of music, however I think that Scrubs is unique in its choice of music that causes it to have the same importance as a character on the show. The music in the show adds depth, meaning and a greater understanding of the world that the show is set in. At the end the viewer is able to have a full and complete experience starting from the moment JD is preparing for his first day of work to his final day leaving Sacred Heart.

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