Radio / Television News

Corus, eOne, apologize to the Jewish community for Nurses storyline

Episode has been pulled in Canada and the U.S.

By Etan Vlessing

TORONTO – An episode of the Canadian drama Nurses where a character who is an Orthodox Jew refuses a bone graft operation has been dropped by NBC and Global TV after stirring up controversy Stateside over its religious storyline.

“It’s important that we address the recent feedback we’ve received related to the portrayal of Jewish beliefs in the ‘Achilles Heel’ episode of our series Nurses. We take matters of this nature very seriously and deeply regret all inaccuracies related to religious beliefs as well as the negative portrayal of any religious community in our content, characters and storylines,” Entertainment One, a co-producer and distributor on the Toronto-set Nurses drama, said in a statement obtained by late Wednesday night about the episode.

“We sincerely apologize to the Jewish community, our viewers and series fans, and are working to understand what transpired and ensure our research practices are exhaustive moving forward and lead only to well-informed storylines,” eOne added.

On Thursday morning, Corus Entertainment, which commissioned and airs Nurses on its Global Television network, issued its own statement that piggy-backed on the one from eOne. “Corus shares these concerns raised about the episode and have removed it from all digital platforms and future airings on our networks,” Corus stated.

The show is produced by Toronto-based ICF Films, Entertainment One and Corus Entertainment.

The string of Nurses droppings has come after the “Achilles Heel” episode, which aired in Canada last year without viewer complaints, stirred controversy stateside after NBC played the season one finale on February 23rd.

The episode which aired a few weeks ago on NBC, sparked a viewer backlash that began on the U.S. website Jew in the City, and a day later was escalated by a statement by the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, a major power broker among Hollywood players.

“The writers of this scene check all the boxes of ignorance and pernicious negative stereotypes right down to the name of the patient, Israel — paiyous (sidelocks) and all,” the Wiesenthal Center said in a statement that claimed the NBC drama’s depiction of Orthodex Jews “crosses the line into bigotry.”

The offending episode features a young Orthodox Jew and basketball player in a hospital bed after a serious leg injury, with his father alongside, and debating whether to receive a bone graft for recovery. The father at one point rejects to the operation that involved receiving “a dead goyim (non-Jew) leg — from anyone. An Arab, a woman.” A clip can be seen here.

B’nai Brith Canada in a February 24 statement said the episode’s inaccurate plot line “perpetuates false and dangerous anti-Semitic stereotypes” as Jewish law stipulates saving a life via an organ donation “takes precedence over all other considerations and religious commandments.”