Why Isn't ‘Nurse Jack' on TV yet?
Television producers seem to be cashing in on the dynamics of the nursing profession. "Mercy" will feature three female nurses - all somewhat glammed-up, I might add - when it debuts Sept. 23 on NBC. "HawthRNorne" has already weighed in, with Jada Pinkett Smith in the lead role of a "tough-yet-caring chief nursing officer," according to TNT hype.
Most provocative is "Nurse Jackie," deftly played in a street smarts-meet-compassion tone by Edie Falco, late of "The Sopranos." It's a tough role, and a portrayal sure to raise questions, debate and eyebrows. Think Florence Nightingale in a biker jacket.
Kudos to the "Nurse Jackie" folks for catapulting her out of the realm of the ever-benevolent, all-giving, angel-like aura that cheats nurses out of their true human complexities. Hurray for giving her spirit, backbone and even misguided decisions. Falco's Nurse Jackie seems "real" in the standards of that fiction-and-fact collision known as a television series.
But here's what I want to know: How long will it be before we see "Nurse Jack" on the tube? Why not a series about a feisty male nurse who can battle sexism in this healthcare profession that still seems embued with an over abundance of estrogen? How about some testosterone to add a little heft to pop culture's portrayal of nurses?
I mentioned this to my mother, a strong-willed woman of 92, and she scoffed. "Male nurses? It still just doesn't seem right to me," she said, without any logic behind her words. What was behind her words was history, stereotyping, and yes, sexism. When will society wake up to the fact that men, too, are human beings full of compassion and the ability to render care on all levels? Why are males limited to only 5.4 percent of the U.S. nursing population?
TV producers are missing an opportunity to "up" our collective thinking, impact our understanding and explore a new dimension. They thought "Star Trek" was the final frontier? Nah, "Nurse Jack" is still light years away.