In the Media: ‘Nurse Jackie’ Receives Five Emmy Nominations

Aug 5, 2013, 9:02 AM

The nursing community may have mixed feelings about Nurse Jackie, but the critics love her.

Last month, Edie Falco, who plays the troubled emergency room nurse at the center of the Showtime dramedy, was nominated for an Emmy Award for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series—for the fourth year in a row. She won the award in 2010.

The show has also been nominated for four other Emmy awards this year, bringing its total number of Emmy nominations to 20. This year’s winners will be announced on Sept. 22.

The show, and Falco in particular, have also received award nominations from the Screen Actors Guild as well as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which doles out the Golden Globes.

The nursing community, however, is torn about impact of television’s most prominent leading nurse character, who began the series as a drug-addicted and ethically-challenged emergency room nurse, according to Joseph Turow, PhD, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Playing Doctor: Television, Storytelling and Medical Power.

“Some people think Nurse Jackie is a refreshing perspective on the importance of nurses in health care,” Turow said. “One of the things that is quite clear on the show is that she’s quite competent and doesn’t take a whole lot of garbage from physicians.”

On the other hand, he says, “she’s a mess personally—an addict and an adulterer. There are people who say ‘This is not the image we want to depict of nurses.’” One such group is the American Nurses Association, which said it was disappointed by the show’s “distasteful portrayal of nurses and nursing” when it premiered.

Regardless of the feelings she inspires, Nurse Jackie is going to continue to get more attention and likely more acclaim—especially if Falco wins a second Emmy for the role. But even if she loses, the show will go on; it will start its 6th season in 2014.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF Human Capital Blog. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors.