Ratings War! Stat! Inside the Battle of the TV Nurses

Suddenly TV is nuts about nurses. HawthoRNe had its debut on TNT last night, and Showtime's Nurse Jackie has been available online for awhile. Still to come is Mercy, NBC's very own nurse show, which will begin in the spring. Who will win the battle of the nurses?

The obvious frontrunner is Nurse Jackie, which might not be a true competitor to the others because it runs on pay-to-watch Showtime. Still, it's got legs with Edie Falco, who spent six years as Carmela Soprano, wife to two-faced mob boss Tony on HBO's The Sopranos. On Nurse Jackie Falco leads another kind of double life as the title character, a brutally honest, over-worked nurse with a drug problem and an affair on the side. From the looks of the pilot, Falco is up to the challenge.

HawthoRNe, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, takes a different approach. While Jackie is flawed and proud, Christina Hawthorne is hell-bent on doing good -- so much so that it seems unnatural. Pinkett Smith bends over backwards to serve her patients and, while both nurses are rule-breakers, Hawthorne walks with the burden of a martyr. Frankly, it's unbecoming. Pinkett Smith is a solid actress who presents the character with a lot of strength, but that doesn't mean it's a strong character.

Mercy, which stars Taylor Schilling and Michelle Trachtenberg, has its own unique angle on the ubiquitous hospital theme, with main character Veronica (Callahan) returning from a tour in Iraq to work back in America. Combining the political timeliness of the Iraq War with the longstanding popularity of hospital dramas, Mercy shows some promise. As long as viewers are able to escape reality rather than confront it in the show -- which may be difficult given the post-war premise -- good acting should keep it afloat. Let's hope Schilling, Trachtenberg and cast deliver.

TV's nursing trend seems to have shifted slightly from the exausted ensemble cast format of other hospital shows (think ER, Chicago Hope, Grey's Anatomy, even Scrubs) by focusing instead on the individual medical professional. Either way, the real question is why viewers are so fascinated by medical dramas. Is it the notion that all that doc talk will make us smarter? Our secret desire to be attractive, wealthy and heroic? The appeal of wearing comfy scrubs all day? Some combination thereof? One thing's for sure: Now it's nurses' turn to get some time in the spotlight. As these three new shows square off, it will be interesting to see who stays on staff.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that NBC's Mercy would begin in the fall. In fact, the show will begin in the spring. The story has been updated with the correct information. Thanks to user pb24 for alerting us.

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Well in Canada we just got Hawthrone and are on Episode 3 and well as far as all shows about Nursing Side of Medcine Go Hawthorne is the best, Mercy sucks and is too much about the affair she had in the Middle East and Nurse Jackie I did not like because of all the swearing so that lost my interest right way.. I just like the fact that all these shows now focus on the backbone of the Hospital the nurses.. unlike ER, Grey's Anatomy, Scrubs etc.. This is a welcomed change.. but Hawthrone Gets My Vote Hands Down.. Hope it lasts.. Well done TNT & Showcase(.ca) keep up the great work and great casting.
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Nurse Jackie has my vote. Episode two of Hawthorne, well... hated it. It is predictable, boring and the constant music bed/track makes me want to pull my hair out. Jackie is fresh, surprising and unpredictable. Delicious with the jaw drops.
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Thanks again to pb24 for finding the error in the story. We appreciate it!
--Stefanie
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Its my idea or "medical" themes are the best way of make TV? I mean medical themes has drama, emotion, touch your heart its good to see shows like that like ER, House (ok this one has comedy too), Priavte Practice off course drama always seems better making coupel with suspense and sci-fi like Supernatural, FRINGE and other tv shows but medical is always the best choice (at least for me)



XO XO



:):):):)
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i think it's about time they confront some of the nursing stereotypes/inaccuracies from other medical shows with these three new shows. i love the totally unethical nurse jackie and am about to watch the pilot of hawthorne. also very excited about mercy early next year.
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I hate to always be THAT guy who is on this site and corrects them (like I seem to do A LOT), but Mercy will NOT be on in the fall. It starts March 2010.
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I don't see anything remotely exciting about watching nurses. Nurse Jackie is the only show that has an interseting character. While I like Jada Smith, I found her show to be rather dull. I feel Nurse Jackie will be the reigning show while the other two flop.
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nurse jackie rules but hawthorne is good too
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Nurse Jackie will p*ss on the others from a great height.
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HawthoRNe was terrible, but I'll continue to watch it. Nurse Jackie really surprised me. I think it's my new favorite show.
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So far I like Hawthorne
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Enough with the damn hospital shows. zzzzzzzz
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I don't see the appeal of watching nurses at work, i think 3 shows is one too many for me.
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Sorry. I can't get into any of them. They are all so far from real that I can't take it...but, I hope others enjoy them.
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Nurse Jackie is pretty good but the other two are gonna bomb.
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