Bill Lawrence Had To Rein In Sarah Chalke's Scrubs Performance

Shows about doctors typically aren't comedies. It makes sense; working in a hospital is an exhausting and often bleak life where you need to work day and night trying to save patients, many of whom are just going to die regardless. There's a reason shows like "ER" and "Grey's Anatomy" are some of the melodramatic shows out there. It's a very dramatic setting!

As a hospital comedy, "Scrubs" had to work differently. They weren't afraid to confront some of the grimmer realities of life as a physician, but they needed to ensure that the show remained a comedy in more than just name.

The show had to be very intentionally goofy, especially in the early episodes, when they would funnel in cheesy sound effects in order to show the network executives that the show was funny. At first, creator Bill Lawrence said he felt like some of the show's goofier aspects were a bit forced.

One way the show let out its sillier side was in the show's many cutaway sequences, which will often show a flashback or a daydream of one of the characters. These scenes were used to make more absurd jokes than the show's austere setting would normally allow. At times, however, the absolute inanity of the cutaways went too far for Lawrence. This was the case in a scene Lawrence spoke about in a Vulture interview, where he talked about having to tone down star Sarah Chalke's performance in one specific cutaway.

A cornflake too far

In the scene, Sarah Chalke's character, Elliot, was being portrayed as a nerd, and Chalke went a bit too far with her creative costume design, as she explained in the Vulture interview.

"It was the first fantasy I did. I was supposed to be a nerd in headgear and lots of zits, and we kind of just were having fun with it, and I came down and Bill was like, 'What is on your lip?' I'm like, 'It's a corn flake. It's supposed to be a cold sore.' He's like, 'No. Lose the corn flake. That's too far.'"

"You shouldn't have to say 'lose the cold sore' to somebody," Lawrence quipped, in the same interview.

While this particular joke was a bit too much for Lawrence at the time, he admits himself he didn't expect "Scrubs" to get quite as weird as it eventually did. While the show stayed unafraid to confront issues of life and death, the cutaway fantasies became odder and more frequent as the show went on.

Even with the show's spiral into weirdness, Lawrence remains proud of their ability to balance the serious and the silly. "One of the coolest things about the show is the freedom of having such a talented cast and being able to do comedy and drama," said Lawrence at an ATX Television Festival panel. And sometimes maintaining the balance between the two genres is as simple as omitting a cornflake.