HeartBeat (U.S. TV series)

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Title card
Genre Medical drama
Created by Sara Davidson
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 18
Executive producer(s) Esther Shapiro
Richard Shapiro
Aaron Spelling
Running time 48 mins.
Production company(s) Aaron Spelling Productions
Original channel ABC
Original release March 12, 1988 (1988-03-12) – April 6, 1989 (1989-04-06)

HeartBeat is an American television series in the medical drama genre. The series aired for two seasons on ABC from March 1988 to April 1989.


The series 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. The fictional WMA is based on the Santa Monica Women's Clinic and that clinic's founder, Dr. Karen Blanchard, served as a model for the character played by Kate Mulgrew.[1] HeartBeat is the first American television series to include a lesbian as a lead character, nurse practitioner and founding partner Marilyn McGrath (Gail Strickland).[2]

HeartBeat first aired on Wednesdays at 10:00 Eastern, then was moved to Thursdays at 10:00 for its second season. This put it up against L.A. Law, at the time one of the most popular series on the air. HeartBeat did not perform well in the Nielsen ratings and was canceled at the end of its second season.


  • Kate Mulgrew — Dr. Joanne Springsteen/Halloran (the character's name was changed from Springsteen to Halloran in season 2 with no explanation)
  • Laura Johnson — Dr. Eve Autrey/Calvert (the character's name was changed from Autrey to Calvert in season 2 with no explanation)
  • Gail Strickland — Marilyn McGrath
  • Lynn Whitfield — Dr. Cory Banks
  • Ben Masters — Dr. Leo Rosetti
  • Darrell Larson — Dr. Paul Jared

Cultural criticism[edit]

The feminist content and context of HeartBeat have been studied by feminist cultural critics.

HeartBeat is lauded by LGBT television historians for its inclusion of Marilyn and her partner Patty (Gina Hecht) with their lesbianism being 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, or even touch.[3]


  1. ^ Hantzis and Lehr, p. 120
  2. ^ Capsuto, p. 240
  3. ^ Tropiano, pp. 44—6


  • Capsuto, Steven (2000). Alternate Channels: The Uncensored Story of Gay and Lesbian Images on Radio and Television. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-41243-5.
  • Hantzis, Darlene M. and Valerie Lehr. "Whose Desire? Lesbian (Non)Sexuality and Television's Perpetuation of Hetero/Sexism". Collected in Ringer, R. Jeffrey (1994). Queer Words, Queer Images: Communication and the Construction of Homosexuality. NYU Press. ISBN 0-8147-7441-5.
  • Moritz, Marguerite J.. "Old Strategies for New Texts: How American Television is Creating and Treating Lesbian Characters". Collected in Ringer (1994).
  • Tropiano, Stephen (2002). The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV. New York, Applause Theatre and Cinema Books. ISBN 1-55783-557-8.

External links[edit]