At this point most fans of CBS's new medical drama Code Black are aware that show is inspired by a documentary of the same name. This means that many important elements of the show are actually based on real places and real experiences. For example Code Black takes place at the fictional hospital Angels Memorial, but is actually based on filmmaker Ryan McGarry's experience at Los Angeles Country General Hospital. Knowing this, I couldn't help but wonder about the incredible cast of Code Black. Were any of the characters real people, or were they simply created for higher show ratings? In particular I wondered about Luis Guzmán's character Jesse Salinger. One of my favorite characters and the "Mama" of the ER, I hoped that a real-life Salinger existed.
Unfortunately, Jesse Salinger is not a real person. But, I suspect he's based on Senior ER Nurse Luis Enriquez, who was featured in the documentary. Enriquez is a 27-year veteran nurse at the LA Country USC Trauma Center, whose extensive experience allowed him to offer the most in depth interviews on what life is like in the ER. Not only do Enriquez and Salinger share the same job, they also have a comforting, yet keep-it-real presence about them. They're also both teachers: While Salinger takes the new med students under his wing, Enriquez is an adjunct clinical instructor and lecturer.
Seeing the similarities between Salinger and Enriquez, I began to wonder if the rest of the cast had real-life subjects to play off of. After researching online to see if McGarry had given any spoilers (he hasn't), I still had suspicions that other characters shared a storyline with certain documentary subjects. Here are a few of my guesses on how the stars of Code Black relate back to the documentary.
Christa Lorenson Is Jamie Eng, M.D.
The Reason: Both were inspired to start medicine after having a loved one fall ill. When Lorenson's son was diagnosed with cancer, she quickly learned everything she could about the disease. After her son died and she divorced, Lorenson decided to use her medical knowledge to pursue medicine. Similarly, Eng shared in Code Black that she decided on medicine after her dad was diagnosed with alzheimer's. His disease made her realize she wanted to give pursue hands-on medicine.
Dr. Rollie Guthrie Is Edward Newton, M.D.
The Reason: One of Guthrie's defining character points is that he's the longest-serving attending doctor at Angels Memorial. Guthrie is such a staple at the hospital that he claims he's been there "since they were knocking patients out with bourbon." Similarly Dr. Newton worked at LAC + USC Medical Center the longest of anyone in the documentary, having been on staff since 1988. I think that gives him the same level of expertise in real life that Guthrie's character claims to have.
Dr. Leanne Rorish Is William "Billy" Mallon, M.D.
Rorish is the residency director of Angels Memorial. Her character profile describes her as a natural leader, tough, confident, and quick-thinking. When thinking of documentary subjects I immediately paired her with Dr. Malllon. Mallon not only served as the Emergency Medicine Residency Director for 10 years, he also traveled through South America. He helped to found the EM speciality in Chile and earned a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from Gorgas' School of Tropical Medicine in Peru during that time. I have a feeling that Dr. Mallon is just as quick-thinking and inventive as Rorish.
And, who knows, maybe we'll get another hint in the upcoming episode on the rest of the cast.
Images: Neil Jacobs, Monty Brinton, Kurt Iswarienk/CBS