PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Nurse Jackie

Jackie Peyton is caring and vindictive, she cuts corners to save lives, has a loving boyfriend and a loving husband, two daughters, and a drug addiction. She's also the best nurse around.

Nurse Jackie Season One

Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Edie Falco, Eve Best, Peter Facinelli, Merritt Wever, Haaz Sleiman, Paul Schulze, Dominic Fumusa, Anna Deavere Smith
Network: Showtime
Release date: 2009-02-23

Nurse Jackie is first and foremost a show that asks the question “Just how awesome is Edie Falco?” The commentaries and behind-the-scenes material focus on Falco’s primacy in the show, and fortunately, the answer is “really awesome”. In the solar system that is Nurse Jackie, Edie is the sun, and her character, Jackie Peyton, is quite the star.

Jackie Peyton, RN is compassionate, vindictive, caring, a vigilante, a passionate girlfriend, a philanderer, a loving wife and mother to two daughters, and a drug addict. None of these things, no part of her life contradicts any other part. She somehow manages to hold everything together, but just barely.

By taking the nurse’s perspective on medicine, as opposed to the doctor’s or the patient’s, Nurse Jackie provides a very different view of hospitals and the medical system. Jackie is the queen in her castle – the two main doctors in the show, Drs. O’Hara (Eve Best) and Cooper (Peter Facinelli), adjust their schedules to work with her (not the other way around) because she is the best. The other nurses look to her when things go wrong, from the fabulous “Mo-Mo” aka Mohammed (Haaz Sleiman) to the giant but gentle Thor (Stephen Wallem), as well as the student nurse, Zoey (Merritt Wever). Jackie’s only real superior is Mrs. Gloria Akalitus (Anna Deavere Smith), her boss and administrator.

Rounding out the cast are Eddie the pharmacist, played by Paul Schulze (who is also Jackie’s boyfriend and her life-line to pain-killer meds for her back), her husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), and her daughters Fiona (Daisy Tahan) and Grace (Ruby Jerins).

Jackie works night shift in the emergency room in a NYC hospital, getting stab victims, domestic abuse-es and abuse-ers, bike messengers and more. She is an angel of mercy to those who need her and an angel of vengeance to those who cross her. She breaks the rules at the drop of a hat based on her own moral code, seeking to help and heal, but occasionally also to deliver painful justice.

Falco is a marvel in the series, showing great emotional depths and agility as Jackie navigates her complicated life. In the first episode, Jackie says “Make me good, God, but not yet,” as she returns home to her loving husband and puts her wedding ring back on. She keeps her personal life secret from everyone except her confidant, Dr. O’Hara, who knows about her husband, boyfriend, and her children, but not her drug addiction. No one is allowed to see the whole Jackie, she keeps secrets from everyone, though between all of the facets of her life, she is fulfilled.

Though Falco’s Jackie is the Alpha and Omega of the series, the other characters do well to add to Jackie as well as standing on their own. Student nurse Zoey reminds Jackie of her own past as an optimistic nurse, focused on healing in a system designed to flip beds and reduce people to problems to be solved and charts to be monitored. Prim and aloof, Dr. O’Hara has all of the material goods she could need, but reaches out to Jackie when her home life falls apart.

A surprise star in the show is Ruby Jerins, who plays Jackie’s nervous daughter, Grace. Grace binges on news and documentaries, taking in all the world’s fear and internalizing it, leading Jackie and Kevin to move her to a private school and Jackie to take a mother-daughter tap class. Young actress Ruby does a fantastic job of portraying a girl wise and worried beyond her years without the emotional apparatus of a grown woman.

The show has a great way of finding the humor in dramatic scenes, where an interaction will turn or reverse on a comic moment, deflating a situation.

As the season goes on, Jackie’s intricate web of lies comes apart as her loved ones cross paths, her addiction leads to mistakes and miscalculations, and to respond, she ups the stakes until the season finale shows Jackie going completely over the top and scrambling to keep her life from falling apart.

The most impressive thing about the show is the quality of execution. The writing is strong, the acting arguably better, and the ensemble bears up and supports Falco’s Golden Globe and Screen Actor’s Guild-nominated performance.

The extras include several director-and-actor commentaries, making-of-featurettes, and my favorite, the Nurse Stories. Showtime interviewed nurses and solicited stories that are sometimes scary, sometimes sweet, and stand as a reminder for why it is important to show the nurse’s perspective on medicine, a humanistic perspective where healing is the priority – nurse as patient’s advocate and constant ally in the process. Of course, there are likely to be bad nurses as well as doctors, but Nurse Jackie moves towards a balance of showing a different side of the medical system.

Nurse Jackie is for fans of the darkly comic, viewers looking for a different take on the medical drama, or people who are still mourning the loss of The Sopranos and long for more Edie Falco.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





Is Carl Neville's 'Eminent Domain' Worth the Effort?

In Carl Neville's latest novel, Eminent Domain, he creates complexities and then shatters them into tiny narrative bits arrayed along a non-linear timeline.


Horrors in the Closet: Horrifying Heteronormative Scapegoating

The artificial connection between homosexuality and communism created the popular myth of evil and undetectable gay subversives living inside 1950s American society. Film both reflected and refracted the homophobia.


Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".


John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.


The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.


Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.


In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.


Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.


Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.


'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.


Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.


The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.


The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.


'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.


1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.


'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.


The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.