‘Scrubs’ Stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison Have a Theory Why the Show Still Gets New Fans on Streaming

Scrubs ran for nine seasons from 2001 – 2010. The first seven ran on NBC and the last two on ABC. Zach Braff starred as J.D., beginning as a medical intern. Donald Faison played his surgeon best friend Dr. Turk. The show was a comedy about the struggles of novice doctors pushing up against both patients and their medical mentors. 

L-R: Sarah Chalke, Zach Braff, Donald Faison | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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Braff and Faison are doing a podcast, Fake Doctors, Real Friends, in which they rewatch every episode of the show. In a new interview with BBC, Braff and Faison share their thoughts on why people are still enjoying it more than a decade after it went off the air. Scrubs is streaming on Hulu.

‘Scrubs’ was as emotional as it was hilarious, Zach Braff says

Scrubs was about the hilarious mistakes J.D. made as a new doctor. They were the sort of mistakes any first timer in any profession might make, although heightened by life or death situations in a hospital. Yet, episodes could subtly turn to tragedy and take those poignant dramas as seriously as the comedy. Braff credits creator Bill Lawrence with striking that balance.

Scrubs: Zach Braff and Chrystee Pharris
Zach Braff and Chrystee Pharris | NBCU Photo Bank

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“The show without commercials is 22 minutes long,” Braff told the BBC. “The fact that he can steer it from a moral lesson, to crazy comedy fantasies to multiple love stories is just genius writing. I can’t stop thinking about that as we watch them 20 years later – there’s a lot of morality in it and I’m glad it rubbed off on people.”

Zach Braff and Donald Faison inspired many a ‘Scrubs’ script

Braff and Faison became close friends in real life, so much so that Braff hosted Faison’s wedding in his backyard. As the show went on, Braff and Faison started to notice elements of their real friendship working their way into the show. 

“We’d be flipping through the script and be like, um, this is the story we told the writers about what happened to us,” Braff said. “So it became a thing that sort of fed itself.”

‘Scrubs’ made doctors the real heroes

Television is full of medical dramas that honor the heroics of doctors, like ER or St. Elsewhere. Scrubs may have been a comedy, but it never made light of the serious work doctors do. As J.D. and Turk became more competent doctors, comedy focused on their frictions with other staff members or the fun they had on the job. Faison thinks Scrubs remains a tribute to doctors. 

Donald Faison and Zach Braff
L-R: Donald Faison and Zach Braff | Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank

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“With this whole pandemic going on, right now we should shine a light on all of the people in the medical profession,” Faison said. “So I definitely think Scrubs still holds up, for the simple fact that there are still people in the medical profession who’re going through the same things.”

Some of the show has dated poorly

Like any show made in an earlier time, the creators of Scrubs have outgrown some of the less mature humor. When new fans point out an insensitive joke in an old episode, Braff concurs. 

Zach Braff: Scrubs
Zach Braff | Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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“Some of it is way too un-PC, I’m sure, for now,” Braff said. “We often cringe and go okay, you definitely couldn’t do that joke today. Sometimes even at the time things would get censored because the creators were trying to push things as far as they could on network television.”