Neil Labute's Nurse Betty overtly and comically emphasizes the panoptical regime, the discriminatory male gaze, which is best described in John Berger's Ways of Seeing, "Men act and women appear."
Betty Sizemore (Renee Zellweger), disrespected as a waitress at her job and at home by her sleazy husband, finds recluse in what every housewife enjoys, soap operas. After witnessing her husband's grisly murder, she lives out the metaphor of panopticon; she loses control of her own actions and desires in order to please an audience, regardless of whether one exists or doesn't. She submits herself by becoming Nurse Betty and travels to Los Angeles to rekindle a never-existant love to her soap opera hero, Dr. David Ravelle (Greg Kinnear). The film further emphasizes Betty as the surveyed by following her with a host of male surveyors: a reporter, a sheriff, a television producer, and a pair of stalkers; each of whom see her as nothing more than part of their own job.
The film is sarcastic to its very core. The objectification of women and beautiful stereotypes is captured to draw attention to itself. Betty becomes an object when she loses her sanity and mentally becomes a soap opera character. The characters she encounters on her way fall into existing general stereotypes, which covers race, class, and gender. For example, Rosa and her mother appear as never-satisfied, moody Latinos. The transparent objectivity of characters invites the viewer to detach from the story in a Brechtian fashion, and dwell on the issue of viewing. One can critique how people view a film, but it is rare to openly critique how people view women.