The Knickerbocker Hospital or The Knick as it is widely known is situated uptown in Harlem. There they serve a low income and largely destitute clientele. At the turn of the twentieth century its star surgeon is Dr. John Thackery (played by Clive Owens). He is a brilliant surgeon but is not without his issues and problems. Yes, he has pioneered several surgical techniques bringing some notoriety to the otherwise destitute hospital. That sounds great though he often sabotages himself with his raging cocaine habit.
An example of the debilitating nature of his habit is how he accepts drugs in payment for some nose work he does on a prostitute. He is not the only doctor with issues as African American pioneer Dr. Algernon Edwards (played by Andre Holland) runs into problems due to what he does outside of work.
Though this is not a true story the series does take some actual events that occurred and fictionalizes them. There are ups and downs in regards to the quality of The Knick. There are some overly soap opera like moments that might have some rolling their eyes. What does save it during the down moments is the strong acting of the entire cast.