‘New Amsterdam’ EPs on the ‘Complex’ & ‘Authentic’ Triangle of Max, Sharpe & Shin
Some things had to fall to the wayside for New Amsterdam and its doctors, due to the pandemic, including addressing the almost-kiss between medical director Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) and head of oncology Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) and her developing relationship with new trauma surgeon Cassian Shin (Daniel Dae Kim).
The former will come up in Season 3, but for now, Sharpe and Shin are moving forward as she faces her struggle with touching others after the pandemic head on at the end of Episode 2.
Executive producers Peter Horton and David Schulner explain why this isn’t going to be a typical love triangle moving forward.
Talk about Shin and Sharpe hitting the pause button at the start of the season.
Peter Horton: Part of what we’re talking about this season is how do you heal from the pandemic? How do you rediscover a new normal? That is acted out through things like Sharpe’s relationship with Cassian. Unbeknownst to her, she just doesn’t know how to touch people, be touched, be vulnerable in that way, after everything she’s gone through. What does that do to a relationship that otherwise would have been all systems go?
Their relationship’s a full-bodied relationship and it’s going through all the fabulous and tragic things relationships go through as we try and figure out what it means to be intimate with someone, especially under these circumstances.
How will Max react to Sharpe and Shin together?
David Schulner: Not well. [Laughs]
Horton: We get to play with a triangle. There’s conflicting feelings — not only between them but how we view them. We definitely have a genuine attachment to Sharpe and Max. It’s been there from the beginning. But now we’ve got this other character [Shin] in the mix, who we also really like. He may be arrogant and edgy, but we love him. We get to play with all that this season, which is going to be fun.
How do you want to make this love triangle unique from other TV triangles?
Schulner: We’ve never said it’s a love triangle, just to be clear — Max and Sharpe are best of friends. They’re each other’s confidants, go-to, and suddenly, Sharpe’s in a relationship, and she’s not as available to Max. Some things she may want to save for Cassian. It’s just changed the dynamic of their relationship, their friendship, and any potential that could go beyond that.
Horton: I was involved with Grey’s Anatomy — I directed the pilot and produced the first couple of years — and that was a genuine love triangle. When we brought Derek’s [Patrick Dempsey] ex-wife Addison [Kate Walsh] in after we had set up an obvious relationship between Meredith [Ellen Pompeo] and Derek, that’s a TV love triangle. There’s not a whole lot subtle about it.
What we have going here is much more complex, convoluted, and authentic because you have this relationship between Sharpe and Max that is so wonderfully layered. There’s so much that connects them, along with an obvious attraction. Other people are coming into this because they haven’t been able to take the overt step of admitting to each other or even themselves, in some ways, that this is something they want to do. To me, that’s much more human. It’s not divisive and stereotypical in that way.
Schulner: What’s wonderful about watching Ryan and Freema is we don’t tell them how to play the scene. They get the script and play the authenticity of the scene, and whatever else comes out of that scene is what we get in the editing room. We never know, honestly, if they’re going to be annoyed with each other, tender with each other, if sparks are going to fly with each other, because Ryan and Freema take what we write and spin it on the day. They’re as much in charge of their relationship as we are. We don’t tell them, “Look at each other longingly.” They play the authenticity of what they have in front of them.
Horton: And have done from the beginning. We never wrote them to be love interests. It’s just from the pilot they had this natural chemistry with each other. We’re just really enjoying that ride.
New Amsterdam, Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC