“B Positive” Edging Closer to a B+

Back in December, I surprised myself by admitting that I actually liked–even if not loved–this unlikely new sitcom about a guy needing a kidney. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and encouraged others to watch for signs of improvement or offer constructive feedback.

Before I got caught up on the several episodes I’d missed, a major public health campaign came along last month (National Kidney Month), and I was delighted to see B Positive in the spotlight.

B POSITIVE stars Thomas Middleditch and Annaleigh Ashford encourage people to consider becoming a living kidney donor in a new PSA produced by CBS and the OneLegacy Foundation. (Photo: Business Wire)

CBS teamed up with One Legacy Foundation to raise awareness of living donors, with BelikeGina.org. A brief PSA featuring the show’s two stars directed viewers to the site, which provided facts and personal stories about being a kidney donor. The site had links to several organizations that partnered for this wonderful effort. The result was an array of thorough information for everyone from the curious to the fully committed–and most people in between.

Dozens of the people who clicked on the link actually filled out an interest form about living kidney donation (the link is still live)–and a few even began the process to donate their kidney. Not bad!

Getting back to the sitcom itself: I’m happy to report that I think the writers have come a long way. So, does it earn a B+? You tell me.

First of all, the characters are much more multidimensional than they were in those first few episodes. Drew shows even more vulnerability. Over-the-top Gina, though still zany, has become more nuanced. Even Drew’s dialysis mates have fleshed out as real people. The aloof, cynical Samantha now occasionally shows a softer side; Jerry is more relatable; and Eli, the former NFL star, shows that he cares about more than his championship ring. In short, they are no longer reduced to punchlines.

I’m also glad to see that Dwayne, the flamboyant gay dialysis tech who typically has one-liners, is capable of rising to the occasion. We’ve seen him react responsibly and even empathetically when his patients needed that TLC.

I’d initially criticized the seeming routineness of Drew’s dialysis sessions, but a few scary and realistic events occurred and became teachable moments. They led to a terrific double episode that combined some realistic consequences of missing dialysis with hilarious sitcom humor.

No, kidney failure isn’t funny, but people in most any situation can do and say funny things. I, for one, am glad to see viewers exposed to–and yes, laughing about–some of these unusual but important topics. They’re more likely to remember what they “learned.” Yes, the show is still uneven, but what series isn’t? I look forward to more episodes.