Okay, TECHNICALLY Royal Pains was over in the summer of 2016, but I have always watched it on Netflix when the season becomes available a year later, so I’m just now catching up.
Royal Pains, if you don’t know, is a medical dramedy on USA that ran for eight summer seasons. It’s an easy show to watch, because it takes place in the Hamptons during the summer, when beautiful rich people emerge from their swanky Manhattan cocoons and spend several months throwing cocktail parties for one another. Our story focuses on a concierge doctor and his small team, who go around from mansion to mansion giving the residents cortisol shots and sternly advising them to quit going to so many galas or their conditions will surely worsen.
As with many medical shows, no one ever has strep throat or pneumonia or just a broken ankle around here. People are always coming down with rare diseases that are difficult to diagnose. Usually it starts out with a mild fever or a rash, and in the next scene the patient is having a seizure out on the lawn, her white wine spritzer spilled across the grass and her legs artfully arranged so no one can see up her designer pencil skirt. There is plenty of racing-against-the-clock medical tension, some heartwarming family drama, and even a bit of INTERPOL-ish intrigue.
I stopped truly caring about this show after four or five seasons, but for whatever reason I’ve kept watching it every summer. I should point out that it was one of the few good things I shared with my college boyfriend. He was terrible, and most of the activities we did together were HIS hobbies that I only pretended to like. But Royal Pains was genuinely our thing.
Look, this show isn’t GOOD, and as it’s worn on you can see the cracks forming, the writers reaching for plot. It should have ended a long time ago. But, now it’s over, finally, and I’ve broken free of the Royal Pains shackles that I 100% put on myself. Here are some choice moments from the final season that I want to share with you:
Hank’s dad announces that he’s getting married. To Ms. Newberg, of course! Everyone is very happy and Hank and Evan keep being like “Welcome to the family, Ms. Newberg,” and she doesn’t even say “Oh honey, call me Joan” (or whatever her name is). Keep those formalities alive, even if someone is about to become your stepmother!
Hank rescues a kid who’s had a bad bike accident, after which we learn that the kid and his brother are being looked after by their teenage sister and their parents are dead. It’s all verrrrrrry sketchy, like apparently they have an aunt somewhere but she’s never in town. Probably this will all come full circle later because Evan and Paige are trying to have a baby.
Boris goes to Hong Kong and takes Hank with him for vague medical reasons. This is a weird episode that involves an almost-kidnapped child and Hank’s brief fling with a woman played by the wonderful Constance Wu(!!!). They run around the city and have lots of sex, and later Boris is all “I did a background check on her, she’s fine, carry on,” even though Hank never told Boris about this woman at all. BORIS, YOU CREEPY FUCK, I CAN NEVER TELL IF YOU ARE A CRIMINAL MASTERMIND OR JUST A BORED RICH GUY.
Hank’s sometimes-girlfriend Jill reappears from “Africa,” where she has been working with Doctors Without Borders for the last few seasons. Other than a quick reference to Sierra Leone, which leads into a hospital quarantine because of an ebola scare, Jill doesn’t specify where in Africa she’s been. She literally is just like “I love working in Africa, it’s so FULFILLING!” She’s brought a swarthy European-ish doctor named Hans with her, and we all assume he and Jill are an item, but turns out HE’S GAY and Hank doesn’t find this out until Jill has left again. As Colin Firth would say in Love Actually, “Alone again. Naturally.”
Divya is applying to med school and she and Raj are married and she’s pregnant. I assume Reshma Shetty was ACTUALLY pregnant during the filming because she’s pregnant in the arms and face, too–she’s not just wearing a belly. Jeremiah is opening his own lab and beginning a very sweet romance with a fantasy writer whose work he loves. Side note: I can never tell if Jeremiah’s character is a complex and respectful representation of an adult on the autism spectrum, or if it’s actually kind of gross? Tell me your thoughts.
Evan and Paige go through IVF treatments, which is an overused plot on television. Paige takes a home pregnancy test the day before her blood test at the hospital, because she just can’t wait, and is very sad because the test is negative. In a scene that is DEEPLY Royal Pains, she takes out her grief through painting a portrait of Eddie and his bride as a wedding gift. She is doing this outside on a grassy lawn, WEARING HIGH HEELS. It’s such a ludicrous scene that I yelped. BUT THEN! After she has her real blood test, it turns out that Paige is pregnant after all, and should never have peed on that stick at home because it’s a notoriously inaccurate way to find out if you’re pregnant or not!
The seventh episode is a MUSICAL EPISODE, and such a painfully bad one that I spent most of the episode looking at the ceiling and waiting for it to be over. The way they justify it is to have Cloris Leachman appear as an elderly actress who keeps having hallucinations of people dancing and singing, the way she remembers from her career. For some reason this episode is heavily focused on making sure Hank knows just how much he’s appreciated and beloved in the Hamptons, and how he changed everyone’s lives for the better (mostly by keeping them alive).
In the final episode, Hank, who has been going through a big of an existential crisis about whether he should just embrace singlehood, goes to surprise Jill at her DWB job in “Africa.” They decide to get back together after about five minutes of conversation. Look, man, I don’t care how much chemistry and attraction we have–don’t show up to surprise me at my job, especially if you had to travel thousands of miles to get there, ESPECIALLY if we haven’t been in touch much and you’re not even sure I’m available! You could have emailed!
Now that everyone has gone on to bigger and better things, HankMed seems to have shuttered for good. Except that at the end of the final episode, we skip ahead three years to a Memorial Day barbecue in the Hamptons. Boris is gone for good at this point and has left his entire estate to Evan, which solves Evan and Paige’s problem of a too-full house (they have twins now and they also seem to have formally adopted the street urchins from the beginning of the season). Hank and Jill are visiting from wherever they’re being doctors right now, and there are references to Divya and Jeremiah arriving later. So…HankMed never really ends, which is a point the show felt like making for whatever reason.
I was almost done writing this and JD came over and was like, “What are you writing about?” and I said “Royal Pains,” and he shook his head slowly, and I said “DON’T JUDGE ME,” and he informed me it was too late for that. So here we are. I promise I enjoy a fair amount of prestige television and read good books, too. Let me have this!