Mercy Series Premiere
To become a doctor you need to pay attention in school, ace your GCSEs, ace your A-levels, put in a bitching UCAS form, prepare for and execute terrifying interviews and gain acceptance on to a degree studying medicine. Once there, you will work like a cunt for another five years. Once graduated, you will work like an even bigger cunt. You will work inhuman shifts. You will probably be taking drugs. Occasionally you will turn on a television set and invariably your attention will be drawn towards a medical drama telling you that doctors are thick, know nothing about medicine and constantly need to be bailed out by nurses. NBC‘s Mercy is one such drama. It puts those uppity 10 years of training doctors in their place. Because the nurses are the real heroes and don’t you fucking forget it.
"Medical dramas like Mercy tell you that doctors know nothing about medicine and constantly need to be bailed out by nurses. It puts those uppity doctors in their place. Because the nurses are the real heroes and don’t you fucking forget it."
Yes, they go that line and I really wish they hadn’t as it’s got the makings of a good show. Aerial Telly worked as an auxillary nurse back in his student days and he is aware that some doctors are incompetent douchebags but let’s not overstate the case. If you saw what nurses get up to on duty you would happily put your health in the hands of witchdoctors and shamens rather than risk a stay on an NHS ward. Aerial Telly is not naming names. Motherfucker, he’s no whistleblower.
OK, the principals: Veronica Callahan (Taylor Schilling) is our hero and not just because she’s the protagonist and a nurse and therefore a hero by definition, she’s also a war hero because she’s just back from a tour of Iraq. She saw some crazy shit out there – a kid with his limbs blown off because he picked up a bomb he thought was a toy; a soldier with no arms and a colostomy bag (there’s no world in which that is a winning combination).
There’s naught to us but shit and mincemeat, and Veronica knows it. She’s angry, messed up and on antidepressants. If she’s not diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by this show’s end then my name is not Aerial Telly and I’m not the name your girl calls out when she comes.
“Sonia’s not a charismatic sociopath who we root for in spite of ourselves – she’s just a revolting dead-eyed man hating cretin like all prostitutes.”
There has to be a sassy black friend of course, a role filled by Veronica’s colleague Sonia (Jaime Lee Kirchner). Sonia’s main character point is that likes men for their money. In other words, she expects men to pay to have sex with her and this is presented as a lovable quirky thing about her like she collects beer mats or wears odd socks rather than, say, her being the flint-hearted acquisitive tart-with-no-heart prostitute she is.
Where do you go with a character like this? Is her redemption that she marries a guy with a humble income but a heart of gold? Why would we give her such a happy ending when she’s such an unpleasant person? Or she marries rich and that’s great because we’re living in a fucking Jane Austen novel? She’s not a charismatic sociopath like Patty Hewes or Vic Mackey who we root for in spite of ourselves – she’s just a revolting dead-eyed man hating cretin like all prostitutes. And yeah, she’s from a rough neighbourhood. Who the fuck isn’t?
"Others are calling it a straight rip-off. I don’t think that particular jack move make sense. It’s very sharply written and, when it’s not indulging the nursey fantasy that they are there to save patients from murderous doctors, it feels authentic."
Then there’s rookie nurse Chloe (Michelle Trachtenberg) – as green as your lawn but willing to learn. She could barely be soppier.
But everyone’s got their flaws. Veronica certainly has – struggling through an on-off marrige to Mike (Diego Klattenhoff) while struggling to avoid her Iraq mercy fuck Dr. Chris Sands (James Tupper) (mercy in the sense that, mercy me, it was good). She drinks like an Atomic Kitten, lives with her alcoholic parents and generally does the dumb thing whenever possible. She’s you or me. But mostly you.
I’m sure NBC didn’t realise they would be covering such similar ground to Showtime’s Nurse Jackie although others are calling it a straight rip-off. I don’t think the timeline and logistics of that particular jack move make sense though. It’s very sharply written and, when it’s not indulging the nursey fantasy that they are there to save patients from murderous doctors, it feels authentic.
But it’s going to seriously piss me off if it continues with this "doctors: bad" shit. Not to mention the prossie.
The best thing about it: Veronica. She’s pretty cool for a fuck up.
The worst thing about it: The invitation to empathise with a misandrist prostitute.
The verdict on Mercy Series Premiere: A cautious welcome.
Marks out of 10: 7