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AUTHOR: SHEETAL R PATEL MD
TITLE: EAT WHAT YOU KILL
COMPARATIVE TITLES: GREY’S ANATOMY, JOHN Q, THE FUGITIVE, EXTREME MEASURES
LOGLINE: A conscientious driven doctor is determined to be accepted by her peers and wields the power of medicine to get it, but the line of “do no harm” is blurred as she struggles to retain a single shred of her soul.
OVERVIEW: Drawing from my personal medical experience with burnout, from stories heard by friends in the medical field, and from news stories like the recent physician suicide of a 35-year-old, mom of three, at our local hospital, this is a story that needs to be told but is often swept under the rug in today’s profit driven US healthcare system. Physician suicide is a public health crisis with approximately 400 physicians lost to suicide per year, more than any other profession - likely to be worsened by COVID.
The character driven feature EAT WHAT YOU KILL is a scathing social medical drama that touches on race, the corruption of power, the need for destigmatization of addiction and mental health issues, and the greed of a broken US healthcare system, with a fantastic main character, Dr Soni Shah. Her story is a similar one that we have all seen recently unfold - the beginnings of America's current opioid epidemic but from the unique perspective of a young malleable doctor, who ultimately realizes that belonging to the right ‘tribe’ is more important than simply fitting in.
Often medical dramas have a loyal following as people are invested in the personal lives of their heroes. EAT WHAT YOU KILL takes a gritty, unflinching look at what can happen in the face of unrelenting pressure that is faced by a doctor who turns to alcohol to numb their emotions.
The premise of the healthcare system being broken, is one that is universal and could be applied to numerous scenarios. For example, a construction worker is pressured to use substandard materials at the insistence of their boss with the threat of losing their job, or a soldier sees his or her superiors doing things that are not ethical and who must decide whether to stand up for what is right or go along with what is easy.
The main character is deeply wounded as the result of seeing her father run out of their racist southern town, and she is left with the feeling that she is never good enough. To compensate for this, she is a perfectionist with a strong moral compass. This perfectionism is reinforced by her husband Manu. Perfectionism is a tremendous pressure, which eventually leads to Soni’s death.
Soni must answer one question during 4 key moments in the story. That question is “will she stand up for what she believes is right for her patients regardless of the consequences?” How this question is answered will either move toward healing or ripping open her core wound. Finally, the wound is torn open and Soni’s story ends tragically, as an indictment of the United States medical system.