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Sep
25

Have Mercy!

Pardon the pun, but this show deserves the bad humor anyway.

After frustrating encounters with HawthoRNe all summer, I was holding out hope for the third of three nursing shows this year: NBC’s Mercy.

I think my hopes have been dashed. It’s a bad sign when you actually look forward to the commercials.

Chloe (Michelle Trachtenberg), Veronica (Taylor Schilling), and Sonia (Jaime Lee Kirchner).

Chloe (Michelle Trachtenberg), Veronica (Taylor Schilling), and Sonia (Jaime Lee Kirchner).

I will admit to (apparently) unrealistic expectations that medical dramas be somewhat realistic. But c’mon, when a supposed physician calls heparin a “blood thinner,” you have to cringe a little. For the love of a basic medical education, heparin (and warfarin, for that matter) are NOT blood thinners, they are anticoagulants. Do your research, writer’s room!

And the chest compressions Nurse Veronica did were a little pathetic. You’re not gonna do much for a coding patient when your elbows are bent and you’re 10 feet away from the gurney.

But alas, I accept the fact that medical shows will never capture real health care providers’ knowledge and abilities. It is fiction, after all.

My issue with Mercy has much more to do with the cultural stereotypes it portrays. In true form, here are a few of my biggest pet peeves about this show…

1) Yet again, the doctors come off as either a) abusive jackasses or b) incompetent newbies. Whatever happened to intelligent physicians who collaborate with nurses? I know there are still some jerks and/or idiots out there, but is it really that terrible?

2) One of the main characters (Sonia) is a social climber determined to escape from her lot in life by dating lawyers and swearing to get out of Newark. The supporting characters reinforce the stereotype of blue-collar families drinking heavily and frequenting dive bars, where there is almost always a fist fight.

3) Sonia also views nursing as “just a job,” which is the first stop on the road to total burnout. And disheartening for those of us who are just starting out.

3) The new nurse (Chloe) shows up in cartoon scrubs and seems completely clueless.  She can’t figure out how to help a patient whose pulse oximeter reads oxygen levels at 79%!!! Instead of bagging him, she screams for help. Even worse, she just got her Master’s degree and was top of her class, so her clinical stumbles paint higher education for nurses in a very negative light.

4) The experienced nurses only minimally tolerate Chloe, being completely inhospitable when she first shows up and declaring after a few days that “this is the first time [we] didn’t want to kill you”. I’ll be posting later this semester about the whole concept of “nurses eating their young,” but this show reinforces that dangerous idea.

5) The main character (Veronica) is completely messed up and recently returned from Iraq. Her story reminds me so much of Dr. Hunt from Grey’s Anatomy, it’s scary. How about a little originality when you sketch your characters?

Yes, I had my issues with HawthoRNe but I’ll take the clever writing and authentic acting of Jada Pinkett Smith any day over this drivel.

I’m giving it one more week to even attempt redemption, but at this point survey says “Two thumbs down”.

I’m not the only one who feels this way either.

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