With “Scrubbing In”—a new reality series featuring travel nurses—premiering on MTV tomorrow, we recently explored the near-constant presence of medical dramas in television history.
And today, we’re going to take a look at the individual portrayals of some of our favorite fictional nurses.
Jackie Peyton, “Nurse Jackie” (Showtime, 2009-present)
In this comedy-drama series, which enjoyed the most successful series premiere ever on its network, Edie Falco plays New York City ER nurse Jackie Peyton.
The Good: She epitomizes compassion for her patients and serves as their fiercest advocate.
The Bad: Though the character is now sober, in the first few seasons she was addicted to prescription meds obtained through a questionable relationship with a pharmacist. The New York State Nurses Association criticized her character for “repeatedly violating the nursing Code of Ethics.”
Nurse William “Dell” Parker, “Private Practice” (ABC, 2007-2013)
Played by Chris Lowell, Dell is in training to be a rare male nurse-midwife on this spin-off of “Grey’s Anatomy,” which is also set in Seattle.
The Good: Dell fights for respect, he’s shown to be caring and competent, and he has overcome a bad childhood.
The Bad: Co-workers’ ridicule based on gender stereotypes (he’s made to wear pink scrubs, for instance) is initially played for laughs. Also, the character’s love life is a mess.
Christina Hawthorne, “HawthoRNe” (TNT, 2009-2011)
Played by Jada Pinkett Smith, Christina Hawthorne is introduced as the Chief Nursing Officer at a fictional Virginia hospital, later obtaining the position of COO and President at a second facility.
The Good: She’s passionate about her work and has risen to a respected leadership position in a competitive environment.
The Bad: Christina is prone to lots of self-created personal drama, and the series itself suffered from criticism for creative predictability and an inability to succeed as either a drama or comedy.
Nurse Carol Hathaway, “ER” (NBC 1994-2009)
Carol Hathaway is the emergency room nurse manager in a Chicago county hospital. Originally slated to die in the pilot, the popular character was kept on for six seasons and even returned for a cameo in the final season.
The Good: She holds a master’s degree in nursing. She considers medical school based on high MCAT scores, but decides to stick with nursing upon the realization that it has proven to be a valued, successful and fulfilling career.
The Bad: Introduced to the series through a failed suicide attempt. Also, Carol could never seem to resist problematic romantic involvements with various hospital physicians and medical staff.
Nurse Carla Espinosa, “Scrubs” (NBC/ABC 2001-2010)
Played by Judy Reyes, Carla is the head nurse in this comedy series set at a teaching hospital.
The Good: She’s respected by everyone–from the notoriously bitter and sarcastic Dr. Cox, to the cantankerous janitor. She’s abundantly competent and outspoken. Carla also embodies the struggle of balancing marriage/parenthood and career, and she’s proud of her Latina roots (she’s Dominican) without being portrayed as an ethnic stereotype.
The Bad: She’s bossy and can be a busybody. She expresses some insecurity about her career choice and degree of education versus her surgeon husband and physician best friends.
Photo credit: Examiner.com