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Series / Nurses (2020)

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Nurses is a Canadian Medical Drama that premiered on Global Television Network in 2020. The series focuses on the lives of five rookie nurses—Grace Knight, Wolf Burke, Ashley Collins, Nazneen "Naz" Khan, and Keon Colby—beginning their new job at the (fictional) St. Mary's Hospital in downtown Toronto. Two seasons have aired.

The show has also aired on NBC since December 7, 2020 due to lack of available drama shows to air on the channel during COVID-19 lockdowns.

It's not the same as the 1990s medical sitcom of the same name that was aired by NBC from 1991 to 1994.

Tropes used by the series:

  • Academic Athlete: Keon.
  • The Alcoholic: Sinead, though she has been, since the start of the series, a Recovered Addict. Towards the end of the season, she falls Off the Wagon.
  • Age-Gap Romance: Keon, a new nurse hooks up with Dr. Banks, who is in the prime of her life and has a daughter.
  • Artistic License: This was one reason the show got negative reviews in its first season, due to the nature of the series, with Willing Suspension of Disbelief being one of the things people said it went too far with because of believability issues around nursing. It proved controversial.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: While direct inter-person blood transfusions were sometimes used in wartime, they required specialized devices that have since fallen out of use (meaning they would definitely not be stocked in most hospital ERs) and pose a high risk to the patient.
  • Betty and Veronica: Charming and likeable ER Dr. Evan Wallace is the Betty to Grace's Archie with whom she has many shipping moments and eventually kisses in the season 1 finale, while her boyfriend at the start of the season hospital lawyer Kabir whom is enaged to another woman serves as her Veronica.
  • Body Motifs: Each character is associated with a body part in the opening narration of the first episode.
    • The Heart: Grace ("Take it for granted, and you'll learn it's as fragile as it is resilient.")
    • The Lungs: Wolf ("One breath at a time we pull the world inside us and push ourselves back out.")
    • The Liver: Ashley ("Bed of human emotion, seat of anger, closest to the divine. Don't mess with the liver.")
    • The Brain: Naz ("The adult brain doesn't reach full maturity until 25, until then who knows what the hell is going on in there.")
    • The Spine: Keon ("Strong, flexible, coordinator of brain and body.").
  • British Brevity: The series has one season of ten episodes (although it's actually nine due to a banned episode about Judaism), making this a fairly short season. The second season also has 10 episodes too.
  • Broken Bird: Grace is shown to be emotionally fragile after being sexually harrassed by Hamilton at her former place of employment including the incident where he caused her to make a mistake that nearly compromised a patient's care during a surgery and his subsequently firing her. Her turmoil worsens when Dr. Hamilton is hired on at St. Mary's following the hospital merger.
  • Canada, Eh?: This has several up-and-coming Canadian actors, and Establishing Shot footage is of Toronto, plus it makes references to Medicare (a name for the Canadian healthcare system as a whole) and the accents are as Torontonian as you can get.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Wolf was diagnosed with leukemia when he was 12, then spent the rest of his childhood in and out of hospitals.
  • Dirty Old Man: Dr. Tomas Hamilton, a Chief of Surgery who sexually harrassed Grace at her former place of employment, especially in the OR. One time his groping Grace caused her to make a mistake and leave a surgical sponge inside a patient, and he fired Grace when she spoke up. It later comes out he's a serial predator having committed similar acts against another nurse named Nicole and her career was ruined. Finally, after Grace and Nicole speak up against Hamilton about his treatment of them prior to the Season Finale, it comes out that three additional female victims have spoken out against him.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Ashley in episode 3, when she hits the bar then learns a patient she was fond of died from complications after she clocked out.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Naz used to be in the spotlight thanks to her mom's fame, which she admits she loved. Back in her homeland, she lived a life of aristocracy, glamour and privilege. Then after the death of her twin brother, she realised that feeling from all the attention for what it was, and decided to change her life, hence her decision to become a nurse.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Keon's first appearance features him stopping to assist an elderly couple in transit by helping the husband lift his wife's colapsible wheelchair into their car
  • Fictional Counterpart: St. Mary's Hospital is seemingly this for St. Michael's Hospital. Aside from the similar names, St. Michael's is the IRL Level 1 trauma centre for downtown Toronto (the other Toronto trauma centre, Sunnybrook Hospital in the city's east end, is confirmed to exist in-universe).
    • The van attack in the first episode takes place at SAI College, a downtown arts college, an obvious stand-in for OCAD University.
  • Filler: Averted, as although medical dramas often have a filler episode or two, every episode proves relevant to the Story Arc in some way, and also the limited ten episodes a series helps avoid this.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Grace, with the kind, selfless personality and fair hair to match.
  • Hard-Drinking Party Girl:
    • Sinead's daughter Ella is admitted to the hospital from alcohol poisoning in episode 4.
  • Heroic BSoD: Grace when she realizes her patient, who she had been tenderly comforting and reassuring as he woke up, is the mass-murdering van driver.
  • Hospital Gurney Scene: As expected from a medical drama. Notably one of these is also used when a patient who was declared brain-dead is being wheeled to the operating room for organ donation.
  • Hospital Hottie: While the cast is overall very attractive, Naz's good looks are mentioned multiple times in-universe in just the first episode. This initially causes some of the other nurses to be dismissive of her and giving her nicknames like "Princess". Ironically, one of main teaser ads for the show depicted the main cast doing a Team Power Walk down a hospital hallway to the Ed Sheeran song Beautiful People with the ad ending on the line "we are not beautiful"... as the attractive cast smouldered for a final glamour shot.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Though she's an empathic and suportive friend and a competent nurse, Ashley is shown to be tell the truth even if no-one wants to hear it, contemptuous and judgemental, particularly towards Grace in episode 1 and 2 when she confronts her about her decision-making and abilities as a nurse bringing up Grace being fired from City General OR after a patient nearly died on the table. She eats her words when Grace reveals "there was a hand down (her) pants" during the surgery. But, due to Character Development, Ashley later becomes The Confidant for Grace and the two end the first season as friends.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Grace hooks up with her lover Kabir in the hospital's supply closet.
  • The Mistress: In Season 1, Grace is having an affair with Kabir, her ex-boyfriend from college knowing he's engaged. She breaks it off, realizing that she was only using him for comfort and that it's not working for her anymore.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: In the first episode opening montage scene, Ashley wakes up to prepare for her first shift at St. Mary's and leaves a note for her bedmate telling the woman to "Let yourself out."
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Keon will seemingly never live down his rookie mistake while doing an ultrasound where he briefly panicked his first patient (an 8-months pregnant woman who fainted after witnessing the van attack but was otherwise uninjured) when he couldn't find her baby's heartbeat. Note that it's only the other medical staff at the hospital that keep bringing it up, the patient herself was very understanding of the mistake and Keon becomes her nurse for the remainder of the episode.
  • Parents as People: Sinead is a Recovered Addict with kids and at some point lost custody of them and had to be "bloody perfect" to win them back. In episode 4, after her daughter comes in with alcohol poisoning, she laments that she can't keep her kids safe from everything fearing her alcoholism and her sobriety may affecting them likewise.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blunt and confrontational, Ashley is the Red Oni to Grace's Blue Oni the latter being the attentive Nice Girl.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The first episode of the series takes place while the hospital is scrambling to care for the victims of a vehicle ramming attack committed by a driver with misogynistic motives.
  • Shown Their Work: While some of the offensive slang terms seem to be made up, overall the contents of the van driver's hate blog that Grace is reading in horror are a very accurate depiction of the language and ideas used on incel and far-right websites.
  • Status Quo Is God: Zig-zagged. While it is a Medical Drama, it is the kind where things change with a major Wham Episode causing irreversible changes to the status quo, but the status quo of the same team working together is in play.
  • Stern Teacher: Charge nurse Sinead O'Rourke. She cares about the nurses but also pulls no punches when tells the rookie nurses that she won't pretend they are rockstars like the incoming medical residents, because nursing is necessary but unglamorous work.
  • Thrill Seeker: Ashley, who is super-aggressive and thrill-seeking (and later revealed to be The Alcoholic) is disappointed to be working at a desk calling relatives all day instead of being in the middle of the fast-paced trauma during the mass casualty event of the first episode.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. Grace pays an ordered visit to the hospital counselor after a delirious patient assaults her and when Grace's dismissal from the OR at the General comes up, she can tell Grace is troubled. When Grace finally reveals her sexual harrassment at Hamilton's hands, the counselor stops asking questions and mandates that Grace comes see her twice a week.
  • Time-Delayed Death: Naz's patient in the first episode is an art college professor who insists he only got a minor bump on the head during the van attack and urges her to focus on his students. As she is about to walk away to get some supplies, he begins slurring his words and suddenly collapses due to a brain bleed. He is declared brain dead a few scenes later.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Gal: Ashley has this kind of relationship with her mother who displays hints of homophobia towards Ashley's sexual orientation.
  • Wham Line: From the first episode, "How many... how many of you bitches did I get?"