I’ve only seen the promos for Nurse Jackie, the new Showtime series with Edie Falco as the lead character. That’s right. Not Doctor Jackie, but Nurse Jackie.
I will probably be stoned by some of my colleagues for not boycotting a program that revolves around a nurse who has an addiction. But as far as I can tell, Nurse Jackie is tough, funny, and, above all, a smart nurse who is a fierce advocate for her patients. After so many hospital-based programs that feature doctors doing nursing care and nurses in bit parts taking their abuse, I’m all for a nurse character who is not perfect but who is outspoken and outrageous about getting her patients the care they need.
I spoke with one of the writers of the program months ago. I told her that I wasn’t looking for a perfect nurse—nurses have complex, funny, sad, tragic, and interesting lives that can make for programming that will rival the drama and comedy of the best doctor-focused series. I said I wanted to see a program that provided an accurate portrayal of the kind of heroic work that nurses do every day.
I hope Nurse Jackie will break her addiction as the series moves on, but if the lead doctor of the popular series House can have a drug addiction, then why not a nurse? If she comes off as a dimwit or kowtows to what docs and administrators want to do that will endanger patients, then I’ll boycott.
Until then, I will be signing up for Showtime and checking out this series. After years of complaining to producers about how they are misrepresenting nurses in entertainment media, the nursing community better get over perfection and spread the word about this series. We may not have another chance for a strong nurse character in a major TV program for a while.
Diana Mason, PhD, RN, FAAN, AJN editor-in-chief