Socialworkersspeaks on FacebookFollow Us on TwitterRSS Feed Fall 2012 TV Viewing Guide

Social workers have a noticeable presence on television during the Fall 2012 season.

Two reality programs are based on social workers who work with youth in trouble and people who are chronically unemployed.

There are also other shows that tackle subjects that may interest members of the helping profession.

Here are’s picks of new programs social workers may enjoy:

Emily Owens MD (premieres Oct. 16 at 9 p.m. Eastern on the CW): Emily Owens (actress Mamie Gummer) has graduated from medical school and landed a job at Denver Memorial Hospital. Owens thinks she is becoming a responsible adult but quickly learns the hospital is a lot like being in high school with cliques, gossip and boyfriend drama. In fact, her old high school nemesis is also an intern at the hospital. Do folks ever really grow up?

Why social workers might like it: Social workers work in hospitals, nursing homes, veterans centers and other healthcare sites, helping clients get the best possible care. It will be interesting to see whether they think Emily Owens MD rings true to life. It would also be nice if they cast a social worker role on the show.

Mamie Gummer stars in Emily Owens MD. Photo courtesy of the CW.

Get to Work (Mondays at 10 p.m. on the Sundance Channel): Get to Work is a reality show that follows a job training program pioneered by New York City social worker Robert Carmona, MSSW. Each week a group of hard-to-employ people — people recently released from jail or those recovering from alcohol or drug addiction, for instance — take part in an an intense job training boot camp in San Diego. To learn more about the show click here to read a interview with Carmona and click here to read an interview with Sundance vice president of programming Marco Bresaz.

Why social workers might like it: In these tough economic times social workers are on the front lines helping families get job assistance, housing, food and other critical services. Get to Work demonstrates the innovative things social workers do to help clients get the skills they need to get back on their feet emotionally and economically.

Social worker Robert Carmona (right) talks to a client in Get to Work. Photo courtesy of the Sundance Channel.

Save My Son (Wednesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern on TVOne): Young black men in America, even if they come from middle class homes, are more prone to trouble. They are less likely to go to college than males from other racial groups and more likely to run afoul of the law. On Save My Son, renowned social worker and educator Dr. Steve Perry holds interventions to help these young men come back from the brink of disaster. To learn more about the program click here to read a interview with Perry.

Why social workers might like it: Save My Son shows the kind of work social workers do to help young people overcome hurdles in life, including drug addiction and mental illness. Thousands of social workers also work in schools and colleges, helping young people get the best possible education they can.

Screenshot courtesy of TVOne.

Ben and Kate (Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Fox): Kate Fox (actress Dakota Johnson) was always considered the responsible one until she got pregnant in college and dropped out. Now she is a single mother of Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) and works as a bar manager to make ends meet. Then her dreamer older brother Ben Fox (Nat Faxon) moves in and Kate’s life is turned upside down in this comedy.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers help people improve their relationships with others, including spouses, partners, co-workers and even ne’er-do-well siblings who come to crash on their sofas. Social workers might relate and get a chuckle out of the situations they see on Ben and Kate.

Ben and Kate cast from left Tommy (actor Echo Kellem), Ben (Nat Faxon), Kate (Dakota Jackson), Maddie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) and BJ (Lucy Punch). Photo courtesy of Fox.

Go On (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC): Sports talk radio host Ryan King (actor Matthew Perry, formerly of Friends) is eager to get back to work after the death of his wife. However, his boss wants him to take part in grief counseling. In this comedy King joins a support group where he meets an assortment of characters who are also trying to recover from various losses.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers are in the business of helping people recover from grief and find new purpose in life. Despite being a comedy, it will be interesting to see whether Go On reflects the experiences of social workers who work in grief counseling.

Matthew Perry stars as sports talk radio host Ryan King in Go On. Photo courtesy of NBC.

Project Mindy (Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on Fox): Mindy Lahiri (actress, comedian, writer and producer Mindy Kaling) is a successful OB/GYN. If only her personal life was so gratifying. She wants to lose weight, spend less money, become the perfect woman and find the perfect guy.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers help people live to their full potential and make good choices in life. They also help empower clients. Social workers may empathize with Mindy’s journey.

Actress Mindy Kaling stars in The Mindy Project.

Mob Doctor (Mondays at 9 p.m. on Fox): Dr. Grace Devlin (actress Jordana Spiro) is one of the most promising young surgeons in the nation. But she makes a deal with the Chicago mafia to help get her brother out of a gambling debt. The mob always asks for favors in return. And they may make Devlin an offer that she can’t refuse that could threaten her integrity, reputation and career.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers, like doctors, follow a strict Code of Ethics that guides everyday professional conduct of members of the profession. It will be interesting to see if any social workers can relate to the troubles Devlin will go through because of what she did to save her brother.

Jordana Spiro (center) stars in Mob Doctor. Photo courtesy of Fox TV.

The New Normal (Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. on NBC): Los Angeles gay couple David (Justin Bartha) and Bryan (Andrew Rannells) have it all. Successful careers and a good relationship. However, they want to be parents and bring surrogate mother Goldie (Georgia King) into their home. Despite her questionable past, Georgia, daughter Shania (Bebe Wood), David and Bryan soon become family, warts and all.

Why social workers might like it: Social workers are committed to equal treatment for all, including members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered communities. The National Association of Social Workers Legal Defense Fund has also worked on several cases involving LGBT families. More importantly, social workers recognize families come in myriad forms, which is why The New Normal may strike a chord with the profession.

Justin Bartha (left) and Andrew Rannells star in The New Normal. Photo courtesy of NBC.

Partners (Mondays at 8:30 p.m. on CBS): Architect Joe (actor David Krumholtz) and gay co-worker Louis (Michael Urie) have a great bromance. That is until Joe becomes engaged to jewelry designer Ali (Sophia Bush). Louis also has a relationship with vegan nurse Wyatt (Brandon Routh). Can Joe and Louis’ friendship survive all the extra people in their lives?

Why social workers might like it: Social workers work every day to help people navigate the challenges of friendships and other relationships, whether they be gay or straight. Members of the profession also recognize that people from divergent racial groups, cultures and religions can form lasting bonds. So social workers watching Partners may see something in common with their clients.

From left: Brandon Routh, Michael Urie, David Krumholtz and Sophia Bush star in Partners. Photo courtesy of CBS.

To learn more about the valuable role social workers play in society visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” consumer website by clicking here.

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  1. Parenthood: now THERE is the family show you should be looking at: ageing, cancer, bi-racial families, aspergers, adoption, unemployment, adolesence,veterans issues. I could imagine a graduate course in social work built around this show.

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