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MTV's nursing reality show raising blood pressure

Based on trailer, 'Scrubbing In' has already created controversy, with some viewers charging 'senseless sexual objectification.'

October 23, 2013|By Michael Miller
  • "Scrubbing In," a reality show featuring nine travel nurses who stayed in Orange County this summer, will premiere Thursday on MTV.
"Scrubbing In," a reality show featuring… (MTV )

When "Scrubbing In," MTV's new reality series about travel nurses, airs its first episode Thursday night, it will have a formidable act to follow in terms of media outrage and water-cooler gossip.

In short, it will have to top its own trailer.

All the general public has seen of the 10-episode series, which follows nine nurses from different parts of the country as they immerse themselves in Orange County life, is a short montage and a few clips on MTV.com. But those snippets have already ignited a war of words online, as some are lobbying to have the show taken off the air while others praise it as a noble effort to spotlight a heroic profession.

A Change.org petition, which had gathered 13,710 signatures as of Wednesday, calls the show an "obvious dramatization" that upholds "the senseless sexual objectification that we as nurses, both male and female, continue to endure." The Canadian Nurses Assn., among others, has gotten behind the campaign, with that group's president writing in an open letter that the show will demean the work of real nurses with "typical 'reality' show fodder."

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Members of the "Scrubbing In" team have a quick response to those critics: Watch the program first, then make up your mind.

"I guess in any profession, there's just a lot of strong personalities, and people tend to judge before they actually see what the television show is all about," said Chelsey Ferri, who lives in Pennsylvania and spent the summer filming in Costa Mesa and thereabouts. "We all are experienced nurses. I don't necessarily know that those people know that."

So what do those scandalous promotional materials show? The main trailer for "Scrubbing In" begins with a quick shot of cast members leaping nude into a swimming pool, followed by a voiceover declaring, "They're hellraisers!" Over the next minute, it features shots of the nurses drinking, flirting, arguing and occasionally uttering torrents of bleeped-out oaths.

Maybe it's not what Florence Nightingale had in mind. But in fairness, the trailer also shows the nurses hard at work assisting patients, with one cast member, at the end, wiping tears off her cheeks and declaring, "I love what I do. I love being a nurse."

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Poignancy, superficiality

Neither the show's supporters nor detractors are likely to change their opinions much after viewing the first episode — at least, if the final cut is similar to the rough one provided to the Daily Pilot last week.

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