Forget the absurdity of Scrubs. Erase the McDreamies of ER and Grey’s Anatomy from your mind. If you want to experience a more refreshing perspective on life in the emergency room, search no more.
This series follows Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) and her plausible but not exactly typical life as a veteran ER nurse. Jackie has one foot on either side of that fine line between being a seasoned nurse and being a bitter one. She cares so deeply for her patients that sometimes she will use unconventional ways to help them, much to the annoyance of her boss. Her cynicism for the doctors will win Jackie a place in the hearts of many who work in health care. At one point she tells a fellow nurse, ”Doctors don’t heal, they diagnose — we heal.”
Her many years of nursing have not only left her knowledgeable, but also with chronic back pain. But a bad back won’t stop this determined nurse from juggling work, husband, kids, and social life. Though Jackie obviously loves her family, her affliction for self medicating has caused her to participate in an affair with the hospital pharmacist, who keeps her supplied.
The best part about this series is the strong character development. Though the ER scenes are interesting and dramatic, they are either secondary to the drama surrounding Jackie’s life, or they just add to her stress, thus assisting in driving the plot. Nurse Jackie would typically be considered a dark comedy, but there are some scenes that just don’t seem to fit the bill. Like when Jackie brings Percocet filled packets of Sweet’N Low to work, and of course, her bitchy Director of Nursing takes one for her coffee. The director becomes giddy and giggly, but it felt a little too over-the-top-sitcom for my taste.
Edie Falco is magnificent as Jackie. Her strong screen presence in six seasons of Sopranos was just a taste of what she can do. Falco has no problem heading up a show that weekly revolves around her, or filling the very tall shoes of being Nurse Jackie. Falco is joined by fellow Sopranos costar Paul Schulze, Anna Deavere Smith (West Wing, The Practice), Peter Facinelli (Twilight), and Merritt Weaver (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).
This Monday night Showtime series is dark, comedic, dramatic, and touching. Showtime is doing an amazing job of giving us something worth watching among the drab summer television landscape. First Weeds and now Nurse Jackie. All I can say is thank you, Showtime, thank you. If you have missed any of the first 6 episodes, you can catch them On Demand until October/2009.
I give Nurse Jackie 4.5 ‘Percocet with your coffee’ out of 5.
by Rachael Edwards