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Jun
17

Jury’s Out

So I watched the series premiere of HawthoRNe last night on TNT. I had high hopes for the show because my general impression of TNT dramas is very positive. The Closer is one of my favorites and it definitely redeems the rest of the crap on summertime television.

Anyway, my overall impression of Episode 1? Meh.

HawthoRNe stars Jada Pinkett Smith (also the show’s executive producer) as the chief nursing officer at a hospital. The series opens on the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death, as she unsuccessfully tries to convince said husband’s best friend (and a cancer patient) from jumping off the hospital rooftop. After that dramatic beginning, the next thing you see is one of the staff nurses given a little “extra TLC” to a patient. Ugh…

I’ve been waiting a long time to see a drama that accurately portrays the work that nurses do. I rolled my eyes when “13” (a diagnostic medicine fellow) inserted a Foley catheter on House, and think the amount of time the Grey’s Anatomy surgeons spend providing patient-centered care is totally unrealistic. Even ER, which may be my favorite medical drama of all time, has the doctors doing a lot of the work that the nurses really do (although at least some of their main characters are RNs). So when I heard that three … count ’em, three … shows will be focused on the life and work of nurses this year, I was thrilled. However, I am really disappointed in the premise behind Showtime’s Nurse Jackie…a Percocet snorting, doctor-boinking mess who deserves a smack for the way she talks to patients (at least according to the previews I’ve seen). We’ll see if NBC does a better job with Mercy as a mid-season opener in 2009-10.

I know that in order to write a drama, the script has to be dramatic. Duh. But for people who don’t really understand what nurses do, beyond what they see on television, I wish there was a way to really capture who we are. But maybe that’s impossible. Maybe I should just stop taking it too seriously, and enjoy the shows for what they are…fiction. I know nursing is the most trusted profession in the U.S., and I know the difference that nurses can make. I just want to show the world what we really do for people!

HawthoRNe definitely has promise. Smith’s character is complex, intelligent and a strong advocate for her staff and her patients. She might just be the show’s saving grace. The first episode also explores the whole doctor-nurse conflict issue, about which I also had mixed feelings. A nurse questioned a doctor’s insulin orders but ultimately administered the prescribed dose and almost killed the patient. That definitely has the potential to happen, but most nurses I know would seek additional guidance if they had genuine qualms about an order. And the doctor who wrote the mistaken order was just over the top b*tchy…again, it probably happens and the show did balance her characters with more helpful and friendly doctors, but I’ve never seen an MD throw such a tantrum!

Many of the other cast members portray rather stereotypical characters…the perky nurse who gets puked on and remains perky, the somewhat jaded charge nurse (at least I think she was a charge nurse), and the token male nurse. Hopefully with future episodes, they’ll be able to add some substance to their characterizations. If not, even Smith’s excellent acting may not be enough to save the show.

So no verdict yet. I’ll keep watching for now.

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