Instead of being overly hyped up (ER) or borderline soapy (Grey’s Anatomy), HawthoRNe aims to be a realistic and insightful medical drama focused around nurses. The show centers on Christina Hawthorne (Jada Pinkett Smith), the Chief Nursing Officer for a hospital in Richmond. A year ago, her husband died of cancer and she’s raising her teenage daughter and continuing to focus on her career.
I’ve been through a semester of nursing school, am a Certified Medical Assistant (AAMA) and Certified Nursing Assistant. I’ve worked in several Boston hospitals. HawthoRNe shows an eclectic mix of ethnicities, ages, newer, and more experienced nurses. It does not have out of control lovelorn characters but career-oriented characters with outside interests. There are no weirdo/ “strange but true” cases. HawthoRNe shows shift change meetings, doctors yelling at nurses for not understanding them (I appreciated that a young nurse cried and said, “Am I going to cry every day?”), and a nurse checking a patient wristband before administering medication (I was very impressed with this detail). There’s a center to the show in Christina. She’s compelling enough that you want to know more about her and her relationships.
As Hawthorne, Pinkett Smith is winning. She is no nonsense and tough. Hawthorne is extremely comfortable with her nursing capabilities. She stands up for her nursing staff and speaks her mind to everyone. At the same time, she’s sensitive and caring as one would expect a dedicated healthcare professional to be. She empathizes with her patient’s experiences, pain, and challenges. She fights for them to get the best care they can possibly get (listening to them, following up on their care, being an advocate in staff meetings). In recent interviews, Pinkett Smith explained that she took this show (as actor and executive producer) as a stop gap in her career because she needed the experience of being in front of the camera again as she plans to direct.
In one scene, an infant get brought into the ED. A nervous young nurse cannot find a vein to start an IV. Christina says that she sees a nice one bulging on the side of the baby’s head.
Young nurse: You’re going to put a needle in his head?
Christina: It lasts longer and we won’t have to stick him so much. We are only hurting him for a second and healing him for a lifetime. I miss being a clinical nurse.
On this show, nurses are not caricatures but real people who think and contribute while on their shift and don’t just go through the motions (of course there are exceptions as with any career). In the premiere episode, a nurse challenges a doctor’s written orders for medication dosage and when he pages the doctor she says: “If I wrote it, I meant it.” He follows the doctor’s orders and the patient goes into insulin shock. I thought this was realistic. He followed hospital procedures. He questioned the dosage and contacted the doctor on call about it. HawthoRNe is definitely promising as it is not clichéd and there are limitless stories that can be told revolving around nurses.
HawthoRNe airs Tuesdays on TNT