With the cancellation of ER after 132 seasons, the extreme downturn in the goodness of Grey’s Anatomy, and the mediocrity of Private Practice, it seems as though the doctor/hospital drama has gone out of vogue (except, of course, for everyone’s favorite classic, General Hospital). While the later two still provide water cooler fodder (does anyone’s office actually have a water cooler?), they are far from the intriguing and thought provoking dramas of their predecessors (shows that include St. Elswhere, Ben Casey, and, wait for it…Doogie Howser, MD (ha, just kidding on that one)), funny like Scrubs or shocking like House.
Enter the nurse focused television show. In the past two weeks, two such shows have premiered–albeit on cable. Nurse Jackie (tagline: Life is full of little pricks), which airs on Showtime, stars Edie Falco as, you guessed it, Nurse Jackie. The show is a great mix of serious and funny, shocking and annoying. Nurse Jackie is openly cynical and kind. Secretly, she is an adulteress and percocetaddict (the two go surprisingly hand in hand). Half an hour is just enough time to engage the viewer with the right amount of sarcasm and dark humor, two things you don’t get with the go-to Thursday night hospital dramas. Carmela Soprano fans will be happy to see parts of that character come out in Nurse Jackie–both characters are strong willed, opinionated, and vocal women who allow for short glimpses at their soft sides. Bonus: Peter Facinelli (better known as Jennie Garth’s husband and/or Mike from Can’t Hardly Wait) also stars.
The second show is HawthoRNe, starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and airing at 9pm Tuesdays on TNT (they know drama). Like Nurse Jackie, Christina Hawthorne is a caring and strong willed nurse working in a big city (holler, Richmond!) hospital. She is compassionate and headstrong, willing to fight for what is right, despite which doctors, hospital administrators, or board members (including her mother-in-law) get in her way. HawthoRNe is more of a drama than is Nurse Jackie, reminiscent of the revered ER (in its early days, I’d argue). It didn’t take long for me to start rooting for Nurse Hawthorne and against the–to borrow words from Showtime’s marketing ploy–pricks who portray the doctors. Bonus: Michael Vartan. I need not say more. Oh–maybe I should…the show also stars Christina Moore (Naomi’s mom from the new 90210 and Laurie from That 70s Show) and Vanessa Lengies (from one of my favorite short lived shows, American Dreams).
And, now, I’m officially a tv show reviewer.