If you were injured in TV land, you could rest assured these days that not only would there be about 5 trillion doctors on hand to treat you (some quirkily brilliant, others too obsessed with their sex lives to notice you); there would also be a growing number of Strong Lady Nurses. And that’ll continue for the near future. TNT’s Hawthorne, a.k.a. Jada Pinkett Smith, will be sticking around for at least another 10-episode season, the network just announced. Showtime’s Nurse Jackie will also be back, for another 13. (This may bode well for NBC’s fall entry, Mercy, depending on exactly how many nurses TV audiences can stomach.)
It’s no surprise, really, that Hawthorne, though the much cheesier of the pair, would land a renewal. The two shows, in fact, are a testament to network branding: Take the same basic premise: headstrong nurse knows more than the doctors she assists, tells people what’s what on a weekly basis. Tweak it one way with a stunning performance by Edie Falco (Carmela who?) as a pill-popping, philandering wife and mom, and you’ve got Showtime’s take. Go the other way, featuring Pinkett Smith as a single mom with an extra dose of gumption (when asked, “Whose side are you on?”, Hawthorne, of course, barks, “Right now, the patient’s”), and you’ve got TNT’s. People come to TNT for Kyra Sedwick’s Closer and Holly Hunter’s Saving Grace, and they stay for the Hawthorne.
It’s easy to see which summer nurse the critics prefer, but what about you? Do you think Hawthorne deserved a second season? And why does TNT seem to break through with female characters more than with its men?