Helen Sharpe Deserved A Better Arc in ‘New Amsterdam’

NEW AMSTERDAM --"Castles Made of Sand" Episode 421 -- Pictured: Freema Agyeman as Dr. Helen Sharpe --
(Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

New Amsterdam Season 4 marketing promised “more joy.” The first few episodes proved to be a gorgeous testament to romance, amplifying that the Sharpwin romance is what everyone wants to see, including those who don’t even watch the show. Yes, you read that correctly. Honestly, unless you’re new here, then you’re well of the fact that this particular writer doesn’t actually watch New Amsterdam in its entirety but watched every scene Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) and Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold) were in together

What I didn’t watch were the last few episodes because of everything that they put Agyeman’s Helen Sharpe through. As one of, if not the best, performer in the series, I knew that her scenes in the last few episodes would be a masterclass in acting, but I couldn’t put myself through watching without knowing where it would end. And then, the news about Agyeman’s departure hit TVLine. And well, there’s no turning back now. In our Best of 2021 character review, Fangirlish writer Shana Lieberman wrote:

“So much can be said about Dr. Helen Sharpe, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Her journey in 2021, following a third-season opener that had her grappling with the trauma of working through the worst of the pandemic, has been nothing short of loaded. Helen didn’t ever wind up going back to that terrifying “normal.” Instead, she went beyond it. After already being the heart of New Amsterdam (sorry to any men) since basically the very first episode, she truly embraced who she was and allowed herself to be open to more. 

Dr. Sharpe continued to allow others to lean on her—like being there for Ella when she went into labor, or when she stepped down from her administrative position to fully focus on Mina—and that alone would have been enough to make her journey from this past year a noteworthy one. But it’s the way she allowed herself to lean on others, to open herself up to a real relationship, first with Mr. Wrong and later—finally!—with Max, that truly made her year incredible. It’s how she confronted some of her childhood memories and realized what she thought she knew all along was wrong. And, of course, her decision to move to London—to follow a calling, even when it was difficult and might have meant losing this brand new love she’d finally allowed herself to fully experience—that was completely shocking and so refreshing to see on television. Even better: Max went with her. For as often as we see our favorite female characters being asked to give everything up for men, it was truly a breath of fresh air to see the situation not only reversed but ultimately turned on its head. –Shana L” 

In a network television drama, not only was Helen Sharpe a refreshing character (and the glue that grounded the series to a beautiful place), but the romance was as well. You wanted to see them together even if you had no context of what was happening. Gifs, fan videos, and quotes were all appealing because something about the two of them felt right. Every beat in their relationship felt earned. Max and Helen were brilliant together, and the show was at its best when the writing allowed them to be happy. That’s what fans were promised, but something happened along the way to change the course, making our last memories of the character heartbreaking and downright off.

At the same time, it’s always unfortunate for a series to promise romance, knowing how much fans adore it and how much reception it accumulates, only to rip the rug right out from underneath us. Sharpwin could still have their happy ending off-screen, and fan fiction exists as well, but it’s not the same as watching the couple, and more importantly, the character you adore have the kind off send off they deserve. Helen Sharpe deserved better than the last few episodes she got, and if I’m as upset as I am not having seen the episodes, I can’t even begin to imagine how upset other fans are who’ve been watching the show from day one.


Leave a Reply