Paul Asay

TV Series Review

In the 1980 movie Airplane!, Dr. Rumack (played by Leslie Nielsen) tells flight attendant Elaine Dickinson (Julie Hagerty) that the plane they’re both on will have to land as soon as possible due to a medical emergency.

“This woman has to be gotten to a hospital,” Rumack says.

“A hospital?” Elaine says. “What is it?”

“It’s a big building with patients, but that’s not important right now,” Rumack says.

Nurses is a hospital drama. A hospital drama? You ask. What is it? It’s a big show with patients, who are attended by overworked health care workers who have flings with each other and struggle with inner demons and deal with all sorts of obstacles to provide the very best care they can for their patients, all while looking like they walked out of a GAP ad.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

That’s All You Need to Know. But if I Don’t Write More, My Editor Will Fire Me.

This particular hospital drama focuses on St. Mary’s, a busy hospital in downtown Toronto. But for those who are looking for any sort of “universal healthcare” takeaway to use against relatives when the subject comes up over dinner, turn elsewhere. St. Mary’s seems to operate much like hospitals in hospital dramas operate stateside

Nurses, obviously, focuses more on the nurses than you might in a show called, I dunno, Doctors. It illustrates, dramatically, what a nurse’s job involves—a touchier, feelier sort of care than the “let’s fix the plumbing and close ‘er up” stuff practiced by doctors. If doctors fix issues (the show suggests), nurses care for the patients—and that requires a cornucopia of both hard medical knowledge and softer (but no less important) bedside skills.

These nurses don’t just care about their patients, though: They care about each other, too. And themselves. And their muscles and hair. And the cute doctor down the hall. And their hidden struggles with uncertainty or lecherous surgeons or rent payments or career advancement or the next time they might get a full, hot meal.

The nurses we focus on here care about oh so many things. Their names are Grace, Ashley, Keon, Nazneen and Wolf, and all of them are liable to say, “I care so much, you guys,” during any random lull in conversation. They’ll sometimes cry or work overtime or give their own kidneys to patients because they care just that much.

Well, not sure if any kidneys have exchanged hands. But you get my point. And all that caring is nice, as far as it goes. Because real nurses, care, too, and it’s good to see a show that recognizes all that care.

The problem is that, as caring as all these nurses may be, viewers probably won’t care that much about them. Why? Because let’s face it, we’ve seen this show before.

Surely, You Can’t Be Serious

OK, so you probably haven’t seen this exact show before, unless you live in Canada. Nurses was imported from the country (where it originally aired on the Global network) to fill space while Hollywood figures out how to make new shows during the COVID era.

And in some ways, I suppose, it’s a perfect fill-in, because it looks pretty much like most every medical drama ever, with nary a wrinkle to give it a new bit of texture. Nurses is the Quarter Pounder of television medical drama: You don’t need to taste it to know what you’re going to get.

And naturally, what you get can be, shall we say, lacking nutrition.

While the series is still in its infancy, you know that romance is going to be part of the drill. We see doctors and nurses in states of undress. One of the nurses must deal with a former boss who sexually assaulted her. Same-sex relationships make an appearance.

And while Nurses isn’t heavy on violence, it doesn’t shirk on gore. Bloody medical procedures are part of the lay of the land. Language can be an issue, as well, while drugs and alcohol could always make an appearance—be it as part of the episodic patient storylines or as a deeper dive into one of our characters’ story.

Nurses is a little like a spin on Mary Poppins: Practically predictable in every way. Instead of a spoonful of sugar, this show coats its medicine with rote scripting, telegenic actors and unfortunate content. We rarely tell you what to watch or not watch here at Plugged In, naturally. But if you do decide to watch, I just want to tell you good luck: We’re all counting on you.

Episode Reviews

Dec. 14, 2020: “Undisclosed Conditions”

A nurse named Grace deals with some serious hostility from Ashley (because Grace was fired from her previous nursing gig), and she tries to help a patient deal with a terminal diagnosis. Wolf deals with a bratty teen with a terrible lung ailment. And Nazneen appears to think it above her job to change dirty sheets or clean up hospital-related messes.

Nazneen is showered in projectile vomit. We hear a number of conversations about, urination and defecation, see some rather foul-looking sheets and learn what the term “code brown” means.

Wolf’s young patient smokes (typically a bad thing to do when you’re waiting for a lung transplant) and sneaks out of the hospital to see her beau (who also suffers from the same condition). Wolf himself pops a handful of pills: We’re led to believe that he’s abusing drugs before we discover he’s taking them because of a medical condition. A woman collapses on a stage. We see some bloody and painful-looking surgical procedures. We hear about a life-changing tackle during a football game. A patient wants to withhold her medical condition from her family; a nurse is legally obligated to keep her wishes.

A nurse and doctor see each other partly undressed. (The male nurse is doing pushups without a shirt; the female doctor whips off her own shirt, exposing her bra, before realizing the who else is there with her.) We learn that Grace was subjected to a sexual assault in her previous job: A well-respected surgeon stuck his hand down her pants during surgery, which made Grace lose count of the surgical sponges in the patient’s body. A doctor says it makes him uncomfortable when women his mother’s age pinch his rear.

We hear “a–,” “crap,” “d–n,” “h—,” “d–k” and “p-ssed.” Someone says “freaking” repeatedly as an f-word substitute.

Logo for The Plugged In Show by Focus on the Family
Parents, get practical information from a biblical worldview to help guide media decisions for your kids!
Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

Latest Reviews

The Night Agent season 1

The Night Agent

As far as spy thrillers go, The Night Agent is par for the course. But as far as family viewing goes, it might be better to blacklist this one.

Class of 07 season 1

Class of ‘07

A post-apocalyptic world meets a group of women at their high school reunion in this profane, comedic survival series called Class of ‘07.

We Lost Our Human

We Lost Our Human

We Lost Our Human is truly interactive and pretty engaging, but it comes with some things to think about.

Lucky Hank season 1

Lucky Hank

Bob Odenkirk stars as a college professor struggling through a midlife crisis—and all that entails.