HeartBeat (1988 TV series)

Last updated
HeartBeat title card
Genre Medical drama
Created by Sara Davidson
Theme music composer Bill Conti
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes18
Executive producers
ProducerGeorge Eckstein
Running time48 mins.
Production company Aaron Spelling Productions
Original network ABC
Original releaseMarch 23, 1988 (1988-03-23) 
March 30, 1989 (1989-03-30)

HeartBeat is an American medical drama television series that premiered on ABC on March 23, 1988, and ran for two seasons. [1]



HeartBeat follows the staff of Women's Medical Arts, a medical center founded by three women who are frustrated with how women's health concerns are addressed in the male-dominated medical field.

Cast and characters



Development and production

The fictional Women's Medical Arts clinic was based on the Santa Monica Women's Clinic in Santa Monica, California. Dr. Karen Blanchard (OBGYN), the clinic's founder, served as a model for the character played by Kate Mulgrew. [3]

Groundbreaking lesbian content

HeartBeat was the first prime time television series in the United States to feature a recurring lesbian couple on prime-time, and a lesbian as a main character, Marilyn McGrath; she had a partner Patty, in a long-term lesbian relationship. [4] [5] [6] The show won GLAAD’s first Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1990, which it shared with L.A. Law. [6] However, in his autobiography, Aaron Spelling stated that ABC demanded a scene in which Marilyn dances with Patty be cut. [7]



HeartBeat debuted on Wednesday, March 23, 1988, at 9 p.m. (Eastern) as a special two-hour pilot; moving to its regular broadcast time of 10 p.m. the following week. For the second season, the schedule was changed to Thursday at 10:00 p.m. This programming made it compete with L.A. Law , one of the most popular series at the time. HeartBeat did not perform well in the ratings and was canceled at the end of its second season. The series finale aired on April 6, 1989. [1]


Season 1 (1988)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateRating/share
"Pilot" Harry Winer Sara Davidson March 23, 1988 (1988-03-23)14.7/25 [8]
33"Where's Solomon When You Need Him?" Gene Reynolds William A. Schwartz March 30, 1988 (1988-03-30)14.0/23 [9]
44"Two Out of Six"Gene ReynoldsWilliam A. SchwartzApril 6, 1988 (1988-04-06)12.3/22 [10]
55"Cory's Loss"Gene ReynoldsSara Davidson & William A. SchwartzApril 13, 1988 (1988-04-13)12.3/21 [11]
66"To Heal a Doctor" Dale White William A. Schwartz & Sara DavidsonApril 20, 1988 (1988-04-20)12.4/22 [12]
77"The Wedding"Gene Reynolds Dan Wakefield April 21, 1988 (1988-04-21)8.8/15 [12]

Season 2 (1989)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateU.S. viewers
71"Paradise Lost" Bill Duke Sara Davidson & Frederick RappaportJanuary 3, 1989 (1989-01-03)17.3 [13] 12.7/21 [13]
82"Bivouac Babies" Michael Fresco Sara Davidson, Frederick Rappaport, William A. Schwartz, Doug Steinberg, Joe Viola January 5, 1989 (1989-01-05)8.3 [13] 6.7/11 [13]
93"Critical Overload" Reza Badiyi Sara Davidson & Carol Mendelsohn January 12, 1989 (1989-01-12)9.4 [14] 7.0/11 [14]
104"Stress" Nancy Malone Sara Davidson & Robert HardersJanuary 19, 1989 (1989-01-19)10.1 [15] 7.1/11 [15]
115"Baby, Maybe" Robert Becker Sara Davidson, Frederick Rappaport, Doug SteinbergJanuary 26, 1989 (1989-01-26)9.4 [16] 7.2/12 [16]
126"Prison" Al Waxman Sara Davidson & Robert HardersFebruary 2, 1989 (1989-02-02)9.9 [17] 7.5/12 [17]
137"South and a Little to the Right of Eden" Kim Friedman Sara Davidson, William A. Schwartz, Doug SteinbergFebruary 16, 1989 (1989-02-16)6.9 [18] 5.6/9 [18]
148"Last Tango" Helaine Head Sara Davidson & Doris SilvertonFebruary 23, 1989 (1989-02-23)6.7 [19] 5.4/9 [19]
159"From Russia With Love"Al WaxmanSara Davidson, Frederick Rappaport, Doug SteinbergMarch 9, 1989 (1989-03-09)7.9 [20] 6.3/11 [20]
1610"Gestalt and Battery" Gwen Arner Sara Davidson & Julie SayresMarch 16, 1989 (1989-03-16)8.2 [21] 6.3/11 [21]
1711"Confidentially Yours"Greg RoseSara Davidson, Frederick Rappaport, Doug SteinbergMarch 23, 1989 (1989-03-23)10.8 [22] 8.1/14 [22]
1812"What the Inspector Saw"Robert BeckerSara Davidson, Jennie Blackton, Joanne Greenberg, Robert HardersMarch 30, 1989 (1989-03-30)7.3 [23] 5.2/9 [23]


HeartBeat is praised by LGBT television historians for its inclusion of Marilyn and Patty as a couple, and for their sexual orientation being treated as a non-issue. However, ABC received criticism because unlike the heterosexual characters, Marilyn and Patty were not permitted to be sexual or physically affectionate with each other. [24] The feminist content and context of HeartBeat have been studied by feminist cultural critics.

Awards and nominations

HeartBeat was nominated for the 1989 People's Choice Award for Favorite New TV Drama.[ citation needed ]

It received the first-ever GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Drama Series in 1990 (shared with L.A. Law ). [25]

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Further reading