The Mob Doctor focuses on Dr. Grace Devlin, a respected surgeon at Chicago’s Roosevelt Medical Center who supplements her day job with an underground practice: To pay off her brother’s gambling debt and save his life, Grace has sworn to give private medical care to the Southside mobsters she grew up with.
“When I first heard the concept of the show, I wondered if this was just a gimmicky way to have a medical procedural,” says Jordana Spiro, who stars as Devlin. But soon enough, she concluded otherwise.
On the series, which premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on Fox, the central issue for Spiro is this: “When does the motivation stop being the debt Grace owes and become a hunger for the adrenaline rush she gets from treating these dangerous criminals?” Under her seemingly oppressive deal, Devlin has turned the table on people who, through the years, had exerted control on her and her family.
“For me, the show is not a medical procedural,” Spiro says. “I see it as being about someone who is torn between the two different worlds she occupies. I think she’s trying to make good in both these worlds, even when they’re at odds – and even if she gets more and more compromised.”
Living her dual life, Grace is headstrong and defiant in the face of authority, whether it’s her hospital boss or a mafia boss. And she seems fearless and remarkably adept behind the wheel when pursued in a car chase. She finds time for flirtations with her handsome doctor boyfriend ( Zach Gilford of Friday Night Lights), locks horns with her screw-up brother ( Jesse Lee Soffer) and holds at bay her gangster ex-boyfriend ( James Carpinello).
She’s not a typical TV doctor, Spiro says.
“She’s a surgeon, not a doctor,” says Spiro. “Doctors hear symptoms and are driven by the riddle of what is the diagnosis. But surgeons want to cut it open and get their hands in it: going for broke. That’s how Grace is living her life.”
All in all, it’s a far more hectic routine than the life of weekly poker games and covering the Cubs that Spiro portrayed as Chicago sportswriter P.J. Franklin on her TBS sitcom My Boys. Airing from 2006 to 2010, My Boys established Spiro as a winsome and amusing everygirl.
“After that, a lot of things coming my way were light comedy, which I was interested in continuing,” she says. “But Grace Devlin was such a great role!”
The 35-year-old Spiro grew up in Manhattan, the middle of five kids whose parents were art dealers. They encouraged her interest in acting with one caveat: that she never forget it’s a business. So she made it her business to use acting as a path for exploration.
In recent months, she’s been shadowing surgeons to prepare her to play Devlin, “and it reminded me why I wanted to be in this business in the first place: the access, being a fly on the wall to witness something you wouldn’t normally be able to see.”
Has she also been shadowing mobsters?
“It’s a little more difficult to find those opportunities,” she laughs. “You have to rely on what you read and your imagination.”
The Associated Press