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Mercy me! Another show about nursing?!?

mercyMove over, doctors! It seems Hollywood has a new favorite medical professional: the nurse! Joining the ranks of Nurse Jackie and HawthoRNe is the new NBC nursing show Mercy.

Previews exhibit some familiar TV hospital plot points (affairs with doctors, sassy gay nurses and bumbling first years), yet the show swears it will provide a more empowering view of the nursing profession than we’ve seen on television before.

While we’re all for supporting nurse-driven drama, is this just NBC’s way of cashing in on the nurse trend? We want to be hopeful, but we’re not the only ones who are worried….

“Well, it seems like 2009 is the year for nurse-centric television. Coming this fall to NBC is Mercy, another drama surrounding the lives of modern-day nurses, with the lead nurse character being outspoken and taking part in unorthodox activities while on the clock. Oh no, say it ain’t so! Nurses taking part in questionable activities? How original…” —

The show follows Nurse Veronica Callahan (newcomer Taylor Schilling), who has just returned to Mercy Hospital from a military tour in Iraq. Together with sidekicks Sonia Jimenez (Jamie Lee Kirchner, Rescue Me) and Chloe Payne (Michelle Trachtenberg, Gossip Girl), the three nurses navigate “the daily traumas and social landmines of life and love, both inside the hospital and out in the real world.”

Like its predecessor Nurse Jackie, Mercy seems to agree that nurses don’t always have to be likable characters. Previews show that Nurse Callahan has had a steamy affair in Iraq with Dr. Chris Sands (James Tupper, Men in Trees), only to find out that he is the new doctor at Mercy. When they are reunited at the hospital, it’s just as hot and heavy, despite the fact that she’s still married to her husband. Callahan also isn’t afraid to speak her mind, often delivering terse statements to doctors like “I know more than all your residents combined” and “I need for you to be a better doctor,” and to patients, “I’m protecting you from getting killed by the doctors.” Surely these lines are attention-grabbing, but with all the heat associated with healthcare at the moment, is NBC just pandering? Nurses have taken to the Internet to show their concern:



“This show, in the few little clips they have shown on TV, is completely ridiculous. No nurse would tell a patient that “We try to save you from the doctors” or sit at a patient’s bedside and unload all of his or her personal problems…. I understand that the writers are trying to build up the drama, but believe me, the real world of nursing has plenty of drama (although, contrary to what you see on TV, very little sex!). I will probably tune in for the first episode, but I don’t have a lot of hope for this show.” —FazoolRN

“I am currently an RN/BSN ER/Floor nurse. I am also a clinical instructor for a private four-year college. My husband is also an RN and works in an ICU. Needless to say, I was not at all impressed with the commercials regarding Mercy. This is not reality when it comes to nursing. I feel it was very unrealistic and degrading. I love NBC; however, if this station really wants to know what a day in the life of a nurse is, I challenge them to ask a real nurse.” —IowaNurse_BSN

“I saw all the previews and am horribly turned off by all the doctor-bashing that’s going on by the nurses…. Where is this hospital where the doctors are so horrible? I’m sure they exist, but usually hospitals with horrible doctors have horrible nurses, too…. This is so cheesy and over the top, and I certainly will go out of my way not to watch it.” —colagrl

“I am a straight, 32-year-old Jewish male, college-educated Registered Nurse…. If NBC thinks it can make this show and stick to preconceived notions and utterly absurd situations, people are going to smell it out for what it really is: bunk. Nursing itself has been brutally misrepresented in the media for so long as a profession of sexy ladies/sweet guardian angels/evil control freaks and loserish, perverted men. The premise of Mercy rocks and is a welcome change. Just follow through!” —justin1000

“I was excited when I first heard about this show! But then I saw a few previews… When she does an emergency trach… ick… kind of ruins it for me. I don’t really know any nurse who would do that, and then she was just so nonchalant about it. Yes, she “learned” it in Iraq, but… I don’t think that’s in her scope of practice here in the U.S. I have friends who have been to Iraq and they rolled their eyes at that, too. And then, when she’s yelling at the doctor… It just annoyed me. And the “new nurse” with the morphine? Really?” —lovepink

“Another TV show to set back the nursing career. It was about a minute before they started the standard ‘necking in the storeroom.’ Thanks, television.” —dannyc12


weirdnursingtales: “I get a sense of witty dialogue, but as with every medical drama, there is more drama than there is medical.”

Jerkub: “NBC’s Mercy is trying so hard to be Nurse Jackie, I could barely make it through the promo.”

EireannRae: “Not quite sure how I feel about NBC’s new show Mercy…I’ll be interested in seeing how they portray this nurse.”

Hbknprincess: “I am boycotting the show Mercy… there is nothing funny about nurses ignoring sick people… why is this their sales pitch?”

Tvtimepodcast: “NBC’s Mercy promo: nurse to dr: I JUST WANT U TO B BETTER! hhmmmm, what ppl will be saying AFTER watching Mercy?”

While we’re sure that nurse controversy will bring initial viewership, we think the only way Mercy will make it past the first season is if it takes the plunge and dares to show hospital drama without all the usual gimmicks. Maybe it will. Our fingers are crossed…but will you be watching?

Mercy debuts this Wednesday, September 23, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Leave a comment here or write to us at

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Halie Rosenberg

Since she was a wee sprout, Halie Rosenberg has been obsessed with all things pop culture which landed her an Associate Producer position on Style Network's satirical television series, "The Dish." Her obsession has also led to a short (and slightly embarrassing) stint on a home makeover show, as well as a sad defeat on Trivial Pursuit the Game Show. She's a lover of TV, film, books and baking. In addition to being a writer, producer and performer living in Los Angeles, she is honored to be contributing to the Scrubs community!

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16 Responses to Mercy me! Another show about nursing?!?

  1. Sean Dent Scrubs Blogger

    I’ll be interested to see what ‘direction’ this show takes. I was disappointed in HawthoRNe and never watched Nurse Jackie. Only time will tell.

  2. Liz

    What a lousy show.

  3. Your name

    I have been a nurse for over 20 years and never would I tell a patient I am saving them from the doctor. I might think it, but never say it to the patient. Now, I have to admit that I have set some doctors straight at times. I will never let a doctor walk over me, but I do respect their jobs. Let’s make things clear doctors bring in the patient, but it is the nurses that take care of them. I think the producers of the show should ask real nurses.

  4. Pinkye

    The promos for this show did not do it justice at all! It is really entertaining and the characters are well written. Check it out you won’t be disappointed!!

  5. ldc

    Get off of it you people, it is a good clean show, which we need more of an I know nurses who love it, and maybe your upset b/c u know this stuff happens at hospitals and your afraid you might get caught.
    This is a show not one of those stupid reality shows!

  6. Holly Porter

    Well, that’s for sure — Mercy certainly isn’t reality. I only was able to watch the first 7 minutes of the promo. I’ve been an RN since 1982 and I was so hoping that this would be a show that promoted the strength, compassion and caring of nurses toward their patients. Instead they show someone who would flip off the switch of a monitor, say “He’s dead. Now, let’s go get that drink.” Heaven knows we need more people to want to become nurses — for the RIGHT reasons. This program is disappointing, as well as degrading to the nursing profession. I hope it doesn’t make it past the first season.

  7. Suzin

    One of the best shows on TV today. It is written with intellegence and compassion for the patients. How wonderful!

  8. Ana

    I watch it sometimes. It’s ok I guess. I like Nurse Jackie more! :) I’ve never heard on HawthoRNe, I’ll be sure to check it out!

    People take these shows way too seriously, Nurses shouldn’t be offended when they see something not totally realistically portrayed on tv, it’s TV! I’m sure Drs aren’t portrayed exacly the way they are, or lawyers or Cops… it’s TV! whatchagonado?

  9. Caesar Jaramillo

    Veronica you are such a B_____! I thought you were back with Mike, Instead you sleep with the doc. I will never forgive you for that. NBC did the show injustice as most people wanted Mike.
    So I wish you and the doc all the worst in y’alls personal life/
    Goodbye Mercy forever.

  10. Halie Rosenberg

    I have to admit that I am totally addicted to this show now. Caesar don’t give up on it!!! Something tells me that Mike and Veronica will get back together. Per the last few shows, they want us to think he’s the only one that really understand her! Also I’m real curious to see where this Dr. Dawson story line is going!

  11. Mary Greer

    As a drama about nursing life…this is probably about as realistic as M*A*S*H was at depicting life in a Mobile army surgical hospital in Korea, but it was still good television AEB its longevitity on television. Mercy has a good story line for a soap opera/drama on night time television. I am a nurse of 20+ years and I enjoy watching not because of how realistically it portrays nursing, but because it is a good drama. So, take it for what it is and leave the rest. If people think nurses are really like that…they NEED to buy into OBAMAcare!!

  12. Cynthia

    I really liked MERCY. Will it be coming back as a mid season replacement????

  13. Halie

    @Cynthia I loved it too. Unfortunately the show has been canceled.

  14. Shepherdnurse

    Hi, my name is Purplespider and I really enjoyed reading about your blog about nurses on television. To me, I have found that nurses have come a long way in television. Back in the 1960’s-1980’s, nurses had to wear white uniform dresses and white hats on their heads along with white leather shoes. Now, they can wear colorful scrubs and only wear a hat when they are in a special unit that requires them to wear a hat. My favorite nursing television show is General Hospital. It showed nurses way back in the 1960’s to now and they have changed in how they dress up to how they do patient care. They also show the nurses at General Hospital talking in the nursing lounge or the nursing station. I know that this is not what nurses do in real-life because nurses work hard at their nurses stations and they work 12 hour shifts. They do not have time to talk. TV has made the nurse a figure that is powerful and caring in some of the shows. I hope it continues to do so. Purplespider, CNA

  15. Purplehippo

    I can remember when I was little that there was a show called “Nurses” on NBC. It was on Saturday nights at either 9 or 9:30 pm. It showed nurses mainly and a few doctors on a hospital set. I enjoyed watching it and in fact it made me who I have become which is a nurse. I remember enjoying the show and loved every episode. I think this show that is coming up sounds interesting.

  16. Shepherdnurse

    I love the show Grey’s Anatomy because of the following things:

    They show nursing and doctors working on patients that are in a hospital setting which is in a true setting.
    A lot of the topics that they discuss are true in nature.
    I personally have learned to become a better nurse because of watching Grey’s Anatomy.

    I also just love it when they talk about one or two characters and what is going on inside of their heads and what they are thinking about medically and socially.

    Grey’s Anatomy brings a lot to the table about nursing and medical issues and I am glad that I watch it.