Home of Jersey Shore and Teen Mom, MTV is not exactly known for respectful or dignified portrayals of people in their reality TV shows. This time, however, they may have picked on the wrong cliché.
"Scrubbing In" follows a group of nurses on and off the clock:
What do you get when you mix the drama of "The Hills" with the partying of "Jersey Shore," and then put everyone in Crocs? That would be "Scrubbing In," MTV's newest docu-drama series that follows young nurses who temporarily uproot themselves to tend to the sick in different parts of the country. In this case, the destination is Orange County, and while the weather is picture-perfect, the emotional climate will call for many an umbrella.
As the trailer shows, the climate calls for a few condoms as well.
From MTV's point of view, I can see how this seems like reality TV gold. Attractive nurses who work hard and play hard, living communally. Who wouldn't want to watch that?!?
Nurses, that's who. The president of the Ontario Nurses' Association, Linda Haslam-Stroud, wrote an open letter to MTV (who also broadcast in Canada):
“It is insulting and simply unacceptable to those of us who use our skills every day to provide quality patient care. The nurses portrayed in the show [are presented] as sexual objects, exploit negative stereotypes and diminish the fact that we are knowledgeable health care professionals who make the difference between life and death for patients every day.”The ONA has thrown its considerable support behind an online petition and Facebook group, launched in the United States, to cancel the show.
ONA has been successful before in fighting the sexual objectification of their profession. Organized action against Cadbury-Schweppes led to the premature demise of this Dentyn Ice campaign:
A full season of TV production, however, is a much bigger dragon to slay. But it's worth a shot.
The problem with the objectification of nurses is more than a sociological one. In Canada, one third of all nurses report being assaulted by a patient. A Florida survey in 2008 had almost three-quarters of nurses reporting an on-the-job assault.
Assault by patients takes many forms, from verbal and emotional to physical and sexual, but in all cases the portrayal of women in the profession as hypersexualized party girls is hardly helpful in creating a safe environment for them as they care for people in close quarters. They work in constant fear of being stalked by patients.
Nurses really deserve better than the reality show treatment. Everyone does. But considering the profitability of sleaze these days, is there any real chance of changing corporate TV minds?