It makes sense. Like a huge chunk of the country, ER was appointment television for me. During my freshman year in college, my friends and I viewed NBC's Must-See TV as our pre-party time; we'd head out as soon as we emotionally recovered from the drama of that night's episode. And back when the show's reruns ran on TBS during the late nineties and early aughts, I'd often find myself sucked back in. But even that was a very long time ago. So, what exactly is it about an almost 25-year-old drama that makes it so appealing to brand-new viewers in 2018?
After revisiting a number of episodes from season one, there are a few things that stand out immediately. First, I was struck by the diversity of characters. As you can imagine, creating a big city emergency room involves a lot of people, which includes numerous guest stars and background roles. It's a pleasant revelation that there's representation across the board, in both ethnicity and gender. While initially the main cast is predominantly white—Wyle, Clooney, Margulies, Anthony Edwards, Sherry Stringfield—it's clear that Eriq LaSalle's Dr. Peter Benton is anything but a token character. There are women and people of color—including women of color—in almost every scene. Frankly, you'd be hard-pressed to find that level of diversity in a lot of shows on air right now in 2018. When Frances McDormand spoke at the Oscars about "inclusion riders", this is the kind of set one could imagine seeing as a result. ER was just doing it back in 1994.