‘Doogie Kamealoha, M.D’ is a medical family drama that follows a child genius who, apart from navigating the complexities of being a teenager, also happens to be a medical school graduate. The premise is rich with entertaining situations as the central character, Lahela “Doogie” Kamealoha, balances her medical career with her burgeoning young adulthood, and the show manages to weave in some colorful layers of its Hawaiian setting. But just how much of it, if any, is based on a true story? And does it have any connection to the popular and suspiciously similar ‘Doogie Howser, M.D.’? Let’s find out.
Is Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. Based on a True Story?
No, ‘Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.’ is not based on a true story. The show has been developed by Kourtney Kang, who had long searched for a way to imbibe a show with the characteristics of her multi-cultural family and seemingly found the perfect vehicle in ‘Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.’ Despite the story being fictional, it takes inspiration from Kang’s own colorful lineage, including her father, who is of Korean heritage and whose family were some of the earliest Korean settlers in Hawaii, and a mother who is Irish Catholic from Pennsylvania. Much like the show’s central character, Kang too has two brothers.
The show is also set in Hawaii, where the show’s developer was born, and has managed to imbibe the narrative with some quirky local aspects that add an interesting cultural texture to the plot. An example is Lahela’s father, Benny, who uses a washing machine as an octopus tenderizer — something Kang remembers seeing her uncle do. In fact, Jason Scott Lee, the actor who essays Benny, has Hawaiian roots himself and gives the role an added layer of authenticity. Peyton Elizabeth Lee, who essays, Lahela, is also biracial, like her character.
Apart from this, many aspects of island life have been written into the characters. The real-life bits of culture and everyday aspects of life in Hawaii that Kang sprinkles into her show make the fictional story of a genius teenaged medical professional all the more interesting and arguably gives it a lot of heart because of the genuine roots that the aspects are drawn from. Let’s now take a look at where the show’s premise gets its inspiration from.
Is Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. a Doogie Howser, M.D. Sequel?
As you might have guessed, ‘Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.’ does take inspiration from the wildly popular 1989 medical comedy-drama ‘Doogie Howser, M.D,’ created by Steven Bochco and David E. Kelley and featuring Neil Patrick Harris as the titular character. However, the former is not a sequel but a reboot of the latter set in a different culture and with switched gender roles of the lead characters. Therefore, despite taking inspiration for its central plot from ‘Doogie Howser, M.D,’ Kang’s show has its own standalone storyline and can be essentially considered a separate show, as opposed to a sequel.
Interestingly, the reboot references its predecessor as one of the characters mentions that Lahela gets the “Doogie” in her name because she, like Harris’ character, is a child genius in the medical field. According to Kang, ‘Doogie Kamealoha, M.D.’ is about taking a concept that many grew up watching and giving it her own spin. It fits neatly with her concept of creating a show that encompasses the interesting dynamics and characters inspired by her family while also essentially rebooting a much-loved show from the 1990s by giving it a modern, cultural spin.
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