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…” —Travelnursingblogs.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.