Twitter can be a misguided way to gauge popularity. If you go by the volume of perennially online chatter, Succession is the most-viewed series of all time, when in reality, its “record high” is about 2.5 million live viewers. The TV shows that actually bring in the most consistent numbers, the ones beloved by general, non-tweeting audiences, are network comedies and procedural dramas. These are less critically appreciated or “cool” to be a fan of, of course, but the popularity of shows like the FBI and NCIS franchises is far more in line with traditional TV consumption, even in an era of Peak Content.
So, when the ABC series The Good Doctor started going viral on social media this past week, a hell of a lot of people online revealed that they had no idea the show existed. They were even more surprised to find out just how popular it was, especially when certain clips made the rounds.
For those not in the know, The Good Doctor is an American remake of a South Korean series of the same name. Since its 2015 premiere, the show follows an autistic savant named Dr. Shaun Murphy, whose specific brand of neurodivergence both aids and hinders his work as a surgeon at the prestigious San Jose St. Bonaventure Hospital. In its first season (the sixth wrapped up at the beginning of May), the show was pulling in an average weekly viewership of over 15.6 million. That made it a bigger hit than fellow network blockbusters Grey’s Anatomy and Young Sheldon. It has remained a major ratings favorite for the last eight years, sustaining the sort of audience hold that’s far less guaranteed in an age of Too Much TV and endless cancellations.