One of the things that ER got right, in my opinion, was the workplace environment. I don’t mean its accuracy to a real emergency room; blessedly, I have not spent enough time in a real emergency room in my life to really comment on that, and none in a city as large as Chicago. I mean as a generic workplace. There are cliques and mentors and things like that, and it feels the way a workplace feels. I haven’t held a day job in many years, but I feel like I knew women not unlike Nurse Haleh Adams, who hung out in the break room with each other at lunch and talked about their kids and things. It’s really familiar. And we started the month with Ellen Crawford, who also played one of those women.
Honestly, I haven’t seen a lot of her non-ER work. Probably her Judging Amy, because I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the whole series, and probably her Life Goes On, because I actually watched that show. And Dead Again. The Tick. But I don’t really remember her from any of that. And I’ve never gotten into Orange Is the New Black and had to look up her character information. But in a way, it sounds like a similar character—an older, sympathetic woman who’s been around a while.
And she’s played a lot of nurses. Six characters I can tell just from her IMDb page, plus a doctor, and possibly others. Which is nice, honestly—I could get into the sexist aspects of nursing versus doctors, but the fact remains that she’s played a lot of professionals versus a lot of maids. That’s a nice thing to notice. She’s also played a lot of characters with both a first and last name, which is rare for minor actors. It makes me pretty happy to see for her.
So let’s talk about Haleh, then. She’s one of the characters who appears on both the pilot and the finale. She’s canonically one of the most experienced people in the ER, someone capable of evaluating others’ performance. She takes care of herself and others. She is, okay, a bit of a Sassy Black Woman, but most of the nurses on the show are pretty good at snark. Which is another familiar thing to me; I feel like snark is one of those things that people use as a coping mechanism in tough jobs.
You could do a lot worse than to have Haleh in charge of your care, really. That’s often the case with people on ER. But I feel like Haleh would be exactly the kind of nurse you’d want to interact with, the one who would be both competent and sympathetic. And Yvette Freeman played her very well, too. I’ve spent two months now talking about people from ER, both the superstar Clooney and all the other more minor character performances over the course of the series. It’s worth noting that they put just as much effort into casting the minor characters as the major ones.