Why no Filipino nurses on ‘ER’? Emmys monologue calls out Hollywood’s lack of diversity

It was a big night for all the winners in this year’s Emmy Awards, who like last year and years before that, all got shiny gold trophies for doing their jobs well.

However, another group that got some recognition for their job — perhaps for the first time on a Hollywood stage — is the Filipino nurses community in the United States.

One of the best jokes of the night came from the opening monologue by hosts Colin Jost and Michael Che who questioned how the popular television show ER could go on for 15 seasons without a single Filipino nurse.

“TV has always had a diversity problem I mean, can you believe they did 15 seasons of ER without one Filipino nurse? Have you been to a hospital?” Che said.


Too. True. We’re looking at you too, Grey’s Anatomy.

The monologue came after an opening song and dance number led by Kate McKinnon and Kenan Thompson, which also poked fun at Hollywood’s lack of diversity.

Many people found the Filipino nurse joke funny and, sadly, too damn true.

“This is the realest Filipino-American content I’ve ever seen,” @mikeyil said.


ABS-CBN Entertainment reporter Yong Chavez said she’s glad someone has finally pointed this out.

“I’ve tweeted about the lack of Filipino nurses in US medical shows so many times. Glad it finally made it as an Emmy joke. Now please take it seriously now, Hollywood. #TimesUp,” she said.


Filipino academic and author EJ Ramos David also thanked the hosts and called out Grey’s Anatomy, another medical show, for the same thing.

“There are also 15 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy – based in freaking Seattle where Filipinos are EVERYWHERE & Filipino nurses dominate – and the show never had one Filipino nurse! ‍♂️ #ForgottenAsianAmericans #BrownAsian #Emmys #Emmys2018.”


The oversight truly is stark.

According to a 2017 report by AJ+, Filipinos make up 20 percent of the nursing force in California even when they only make up 4 percent of the state’s population.

And it’s not just Filipino nurses. Filipinos, in general, are not represented enough in Hollywood. On TV, there have only been a handful of characters that were obviously of Filipino heritage and many only started appearing in the last few years.

Top of mind would be Crazy Ex-Girlfriend love interest Josh Chan, played by Vincent Rodriguez III, and Mateo Fernando Aquino Liwanag from Superstore, played by Nico Santos.

Major props to the creators of Superstore for giving Mateo a mouthful of names — so accurate.

But things could be looking up.

Filipino-American actor Darren Criss won his first Emmy Award today for portraying infamous serial killer Andrew Cunanan on The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.

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