The creation of story authenticity – a case study of the Taiwanese fictional medical program “Wake Up”

Author: Yin-Yueh Lo – Shih Hsin University, Taiwan

Co-author: Chun Ju Huang – National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan

Public representations of science and medicine are not only influenced by communication about actual scientific projects, findings, or explanations of medical problems. They are also shaped by novels, movies or TV dramas that focus on science-related topics and include scientists or medical professionals as characters. The question is whether fiction mostly proliferates a contorted image of science and medicine, or whether it contributes to a more comprehensive image.

This paper analyses the case of the popular Taiwanese fictional TV series “Wake Up” that centers on an anesthesiologist. We explored the production of the medical scenes, in particular the important role of the medical consultant. Results are based on a content analysis of the series and on interviews with the producer and the medical consultant, an anesthesiologist himself.

Medical knowledge is only peripherally presented in the program; its focus is on the social practice of medicine. The story reveals the injustice of the management hierarchy in a hospital and displays ethical conflicts in clinical practice. The main function of the medical consultant was to ensure authenticity of the atmosphere in the clinical scenes. The producer was very concerned about the clinical authenticity of the scenes, not because he was genuinely interested in accuracy but because he expected authenticity to enhance the entertaining function of the fictional story by increasing empathy of the audience.

Two main conclusions can be drawn: Fictional stories may help the audience understand the organizational context of science or medicine. And story producers show an interest in scientific/medical authenticity because they anticipate a positive effect on audience success. To better understand the actual effects of scientific/medical authenticity in fiction the next phase of our study will focus on audience reception.

Presentation type: Visual talk
Theme: Stories
Area of interest: Investigating science communication practices