ABWW: Christina Hawthorne, RN

When I was a small child every woman I knew was a nurse. At the age of five, I thought that all nurses were black or Filipino! That is part of the reason I am delighted Hawthorne is back for a second season. Jada Pinkett Smith stars in the second dramatic program in television history to feature an African American woman (the first was Showtime’s Soul food) as a main character. As the wife of one of the most powerful actors in Hollywood and the mother of the star of the surprise hit of the summer, Ms. Pinkett Smith is probably the only black women with the juice to get this show on the air and create a complex, interesting character that doesn’t fall into the typical debased black woman stereotype. Besides being a supernurse, Christina is a widow with a teenage daughter, which is a miracle in itself. White writers usually are usually too lazy to create black characters with a family and social life, so most African American characters on television are who are not criminals end up as asexual helpers whose only purpose is to make the white protagonist look good.
At the beginning of this season Christina takes a job at a hood hospital after the previous institution she worked in closed down. This move has given the show a more diverse cast including Vanessa Bell Calloway as a 17 year nursing veteran and all around angry black woman. In a lesser hands, Calloway’s character would stay that way, but in the first episode we see her as a war weary nursing veteran who is tired of administrators who promise change only to leave when they get a better job. How often do you get to see two black women having a dialogue on TV? It also helps that Sara Gilbert (Roseanne) is cast as a surly, incompetent nurse. This season it looks like Christina may be ready for love with Dr. Tom Wakefield. It has taken over 40 years for TV to slowly come out of it’s white centered narcissism and produce about another show about educated, widowed black woman with a normally functioning child. I am sure that Diahann Carroll (Julia, 1968) is grinning form ear to ear. A dramatic show about a confident, competent black women is a controversial premise and it is a miracle that the show is on for a second season, lets try to make sure it has many more.

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4 responses to “ABWW: Christina Hawthorne, RN”

  1. Kelly G. says :

    In the first season I was not impressed. As a nurse I thought her character was way over the top. This season I can’t wait to get home and watch. Adding the Vanessa Bell Calloway character has given the drama a more realistic view as to the power struggle nurses have with each other. As a nurse who always wanted to be the patient advicate and a nurse since I was a kid, I can get intouch with Jadas quest to bring quality nursing care to the patients we serve. It is ironic that I talked about a reality show of nurses, this is as real as it can get. Thanks for comming back and being more realistic.

  2. TR says :

    Never watched Hawthorne until season 3. I guess that provides with a different point of view about the show Hawthorne in general.
    The season starter has interesting storyline although I find it rather jam-packed and a bit too fast paced. The only thing I have beef with this show is that while the loss of child is tragic, Christina surely is coping differently from Tom. She kind just wants to bury herself with work and not think about it while Tom wants to confront it differently. And when Tom wants to work things out with Christina, she just pushes him away and acts like she is more receptive to Nick. So tell me again, why were Christina and Tom married in the first place? Anyway, from reading the wikipedia episode list for season 3, I already have a crystal clear idea on where the season is going. But I can’t help wonder why the episode guide mentions so much about sex, infidelity, etc. I get it that black woman goes through a ton of crap in life (I dated black women before to understand), but it is a bit harder for me to feel for Christina as a character in general. Anyway, after 3 episodes of Season 3, I might just call it quit.

  3. Chris says :

    The author of this article is incorrect. The first African American woman with a lead dramatic TV role was actually Diahann Carroll who starred in the 1968 TV series “Julia.” She was nurse Julia Baker, a widow whose husband died in Vietnam who is trying to raise a young son alone. It was groundbreaking as one of the first series on television starring a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. It also ran for three seasons, ending in 1971.

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