Welcome to this week’s installment of Geek Girl Authority Crush of the Week, wherein we shine a spotlight on strong women and nonbinary folks who inspire us. This includes fictional characters in geeky media and creators as well. They are a prime example of empowerment and how crucial it is for youth to have said example to follow.
DISCLAIMER: The following contains spoilers for Scrubs.
Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes) is a nurse at Sacred Heart Hospital and works closely alongside J.D. (Zach Braff), Elliot (Sarah Chalke), Perry Cox (John C. McGinley) and her eventual husband Turk (Donald Faison). She was born in the Dominican Republic before moving to Chicago as a child with her family. Carla started as a floor nurse and spent most of her days doing a vast majority of the doctor’s work and her own. She is critical in helping J.D. and Elliot find their footing and confidence in the field.
Early in Scrubs, Carla begins dating Turk, and their relationship is a significant plot point. The two have their ups and downs but always find their way back to each other. She also faces a few personal journies along the way that include fighting for support for her fellow nurses, taking care of her mother, being the “adult” among her friends and trying to decide between being a stay-at-home mother and reentering the world field.
The Real Deal:
Carla is the real deal. Seriously. Anyone who can get the Janitor (Neil Flynn) and Dr. Cox in line with just a single well-placed glare is a Queen in our books. She is loyal to the people around her but isn’t afraid to drop truth bombs when needed. While her relationship with Elliot is a bit like walking on eggshells at the beginning of the series, the two become thick as thieves, and Carla serves as a voice of reason for the young doctor both in and out of the hospital.
But Carla’s story isn’t just about helping others. She experiences her own growth throughout the eight seasons of Scrubs. She is a complex character whose different sides are explored through both comedic and heartbreaking moments. Most times, she is the voice of reason for her friends and family, but like all of us, she isn’t perfect. And it’s in these moments that we really see her character shine through. Because deep down, the choices she makes are always to help those around her.
Why She Matters:
So, why does Carla matter? Scrubs wasn’t without its faults, and honestly, some of what took place in the series wouldn’t work on TV today. But it was ahead of its time in over aspects. Carla was a strong female character with her plotlines and journey. And while yes, a lot of her story is overshadowed at times by Turk (and J.D.), we see a lot of representation through her. Most notably, being a Latina main character. Her connection to her heritage appears throughout the series and plays an essential role in her character.
My personal connection to Carla has always been her struggle with deciding between returning to work or staying at home. Most mother characters on TV at the time either stayed home or had a job. There was no conversation about the struggle of trying to decide what type of parent you want to be. This also goes hand in hand with her plot dealing with postpartum and openly discussing mental health. In a few episodes, she tackled a subject that was almost unheard of at that time and shed light on something women deal with around the world.
So, be like Carla Espinosa. Be loyal to your friends but provide honest and helpful advice, stand up for yourself and others around you and don’t be afraid to kick ass and take names.