Reviews

'Nurse Jackie: Season Three' is More of the Same -- But That's a Good Thing

Although Nurse Jackie’s third season isn’t quite as strong as it has been in the past and would benefit from a deeper analysis of Jackie’s personality, its many good performances and its clever blend of comedy and drama make it worth watching.


Nurse Jackie: Season Three

Distributor: Lionsgate
Cast: Edie Falco; Dominic Fumusa; Paul Schulze; Merritt Weaver
Network: Showtime
Release date: 2012-02-21
Amazon

Nurse Jackie's third season begins with Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) being forced by her husband, Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) and her best friend, Dr. Eleanor O’Hara (Eve Best) to face her prescription drug abuse and her countless lies. But Jackie, as usual, wriggles out of the tight spot to the tune of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” with more of her cool deception. She convinces her loved ones that she has kicked the habit but continues to crush and snort pills that she stores in clever hiding places—her children’s mittens, file folders kept in her basement, the inside of a Sharpie. Jackie does it all with ease, because—as her former partner in adultery, Eddie (Paul Schulze) disdainfully notes—she is “a world class, genius liar.”

She's also a first-rate nurse at All Saints Hospital in Manhattan, where she constantly skirts the rules to help her patients, struggles to outwit a male nurse who sees through her, and frequently visits a nearby diner to hug her dealer so he can slip pills into her pocket. “People gotta stop tryin’ to save people who don’t want to be saved,” Jackie says.

She makes an effort to save herself by quitting drugs without professional help, which results in physical withdrawal that she attempts to endure while on the job. But it becomes too much, and when her dealer is no longer available, she steals drugs from All Saints, tricks co-workers into supplying her with over-the-counter meds, and drinks mouthwash in the hospital bathroom.

Jackie is hooked on pills and dishonesty, and although the talented Edie Falco portrays this complex and morally ambiguous character with charisma and skill, the reasons behind Jackie’s behavior remain a frustrating mystery. The end of Season Two provided a glimmer of hope for learning more about her psyche and motivations, but the latest season fails to expose the root of Jackie’s problems. Other than her alleged back pain, why does she need to numb herself with drugs? Why does she still have feelings for Eddie, and why did she have an affair with him when she has a caring, loving partner in Kevin? What happened in her past to cause her flagrant disregard for those who care about her?

Jackie’s behavior, and the lack of explanation for it, makes her character less sympathetic in Season Three. She often comes off as cold and callous—especially toward the long-suffering Kevin—and her hypocritical reaction toward his surprising news at the end of the season makes her even more unappealing. She is often placed in situations that attempt to portray her as virtuous—such as when she stands up for a waitress who is being verbally abused by a customer—but these scenes frequently feel forced, and would be unnecessary if the script provided a deeper understanding of who Jackie really is. The series meanders along without ever showing much of a change in Jackie’s actions and direction.

Another character who falters in the latest season is Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli). Facinelli does his best with the role, but he is limited by its writing. Dr. Cooper has always been drawn as an inept fool, and he is now further degraded by a storyline about the divorce of his female parents. The breakup causes Dr. Cooper to regress into childlike behavior that is absurd, unbelievable, and out of place in the series. This flaw in the script is, however, tempered by Nurse Zoey Barkow (portrayed beautifully by Merritt Wever), who continues to be a delightful confection of innocence and goofiness.

Although Nurse Jackie’s third season isn’t quite as strong as it has been in the past and would benefit from a deeper analysis of Jackie’s personality, its many good performances and its shrewd blend of comedy and drama make it worth watching.

The DVD contains extras that include interviews with some of the cast (Anna Deavere Smith, Paul Schulze, and Dominic Fumusa), audio commentary of a few episodes by several cast members, and a gag reel.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Books

'World War 3 Illustrated #51: The World We Are Fighting For'

World War 3 Illustrated #51 displays an eclectic range of artists united in their call to save democracy from rising fascism.

Music

Tiphanie Doucet's "You and I" Is an Exercise in Pastoral Poignancy (premiere)

French singer-songwriter Tiphanie Doucet gives a glimpse of her upcoming EP, Painted Blue, via the sublimely sentimental ode, "You and I".

Music

PM Picks Playlist 3: WEIRDO, Psychobuildings, Lili Pistorius

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of WEIRDO, Brooklyn chillwavers Psychobuildings, the clever alt-pop of Lili Pistorius, visceral post-punk from Sapphire Blues, Team Solo's ska-pop confection, and dubby beats from Ink Project.

By the Book

The Story of Life in 10 1/2 Species (excerpt)

If an alien visitor were to collect ten souvenir life forms to represent life on earth, which would they be? This excerpt of Marianne Taylor's The Story of Life in 10 and a Half Species explores in text and photos the tiny but powerful earthling, the virus.

Marianne Taylor
Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Music

Deftones Pull a Late-Career Rabbit Out of a Hat with 'Ohms'

Twenty years removed from Deftones' debut album, the iconic alt-metal outfit gel more than ever and discover their poise on Ohms.

Music

Arcade Fire's Will Butler Personalizes History on 'Generations'

Arcade Fire's Will Butler creates bouncy, infectious rhythms and covers them with socially responsible, cerebral lyrics about American life past and present on Generations.

Music

Thelonious Monk's Recently Unearthed 'Palo Alto' Is a Stellar Posthumous Live Set

With a backstory as exhilarating as the music itself, a Thelonious Monk concert recorded at a California high school in 1968 is a rare treat for jazz fans.

Music

Jonnine's 'Blue Hills' Is an Intimate Collection of Half-Awake Pop Songs

What sets experimental pop's Jonnine apart on Blue Hills is her attention to detail, her poetic lyricism, and the indelibly personal touch her sound bears.

Music

Renegade Connection's Gary Asquith Indulges in Creative Tension

From Renegade Soundwave to Renegade Connection, electronic legend Gary Asquith talks about how he continues to produce infectiously innovative music.

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

A Certain Ratio Return with a Message of Hope on 'ACR Loco'

Inspired by 2019's career-spanning box set, legendary Manchester post-punkers A Certain Ratio return with their first new album in 12 years, ACR Loco.

Books

Oscar Hijuelos' 'Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love' Dances On

Oscar Hijuelos' dizzyingly ambitious foot-tapping family epic, Mambo Kings Play the Songs of Love, opened the door for Latinx writers to tell their stories in all their richness.

Music

PM Picks Playlist 2: Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES, SOUNDQ

PopMatters Picks Playlist features the electropop of Bamboo Smoke, LIA ICES' stunning dream folk, Polish producer SOUNDQ, the indie pop of Pylon Heights, a timely message from Exit Kid, and Natalie McCool's latest alt-pop banger.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Music

Bright Eyes' 'Down in the Weeds' Is a Return to Form and a Statement of Hope

Bright Eyes may not technically be emo, but they are transcendently expressive, beatifically melancholic. Down in the Weeds is just the statement of grounding that we need as a respite from the churning chaos around us.

Film

Audrey Hepburn + Rome = Grace, Class, and Beauty

William Wyler's Roman Holiday crosses the postcard genre with a hardy trope: Old World royalty seeks escape from stuffy, ritual-bound, lives for a fling with the modern world, especially with Americans.

Music

Colombia's Simón Mejía Plugs Into the Natural World on 'Mirla'

Bomba Estéreo founder Simón Mejía electrifies nature for a different kind of jungle music on his debut solo album, Mirla.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

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