In the very last song of their very last album (and with all due respect to the fans who will point out that the last song is actually "Her Majesty") The Beatles summed it up best. "And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make." Like the musical jumble that characterizes Abbey Road's "Golden Slumbers" medley, the series finale of ER proved to be a fitting homage to the constant chaos that has transpired at County General over the last 15 years. It has been a glorious joy ride through everyday human drama and the lives and loves of the doctors and nurses who became more to us than just characters on a television show. They became a part of the fabric of our pop culture, grabbing hold of our imaginations, defining a genre and leaving a lasting imprint on our hearts and our collective consciousness.
For many fans, this one included, our attachment to the show has something to do with how it has related to our own changing lives. In September 1994, I was a twentysomething, still living at home with my parents. I remember watching the ER pilot with my mom, a neo-natal intensive care nurse. Here was a lady who knew first hand about the stressful life and death situations that were playing out on screen, and immediately, she was hooked. Together, we became part of that "must see" phenomenon. At that time, the biggest star on the show was Anthony Edwards (or "Goose" to those of us who came of age watching Top Gun.) That Clooney guy? He was the dude from The Facts of Life. Seriously.
"People come in here and they're sick, dying and bleeding and they need our help. And helping them is more important than how we feel." From that very first episode, Mark Green set the tone. We watched him guide Carter through those first years, and we became extraordinarily invested in the ups and downs that these people faced. Not every patient was saved and not every story had a happy ending. As viewers, sometimes the rug got pulled out from under us. Lucy died. Mark died. Pratt died. Kerry Weaver lost the love of her life and Dr. Romano got flattened by a free-falling helicopter. (And yes, he died, along with countless others.) But sometimes they threw us a bone. Doug and Carol got their happy Seattle ending. Neela and Ray overcame lost limbs. Luka and Abby got over themselves. Looking back, it does seem as though the happy times outweighed the bad, but then isn't that how we usually feel as something is ending?
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