PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.
Reviews

Nurse Jackie: Series Premiere

Edie Falco is surely dynamic, but the strength of Nurse Jackie lies in its smart, respectful examination of a nurse's life.


Nurse Jackie

Airtime: Mondays, 10:30pm ET
Cast: Edie Falco, Eve Best, Peter Facinelli, Paul Schulze, Haaz Sleiman, Merritt Wever
Subtitle: Series Premiere
Network: Showtime
Air date: 2009-06-08
Website
Trailer
Amazon
I think one's feelings waste themselves in words, they ought all to be distilled into actions and into actions which bring results.

-- Florence Nightingale

I don't do chatty. I like quiet. Quiet and mean.

-- Nurse Jackie (Edie Falco)

Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) is an adulterer and pill-popper. An ER nurse in New York City, she can be a real bitch, breaking the rules and the law with alarming frequency. She's also the woman you want by your side should you find yourself injured or ill.

Showtime's dark comedy Nurse Jackie presents Jackie's life as split, part hard-nosed nurse and part loving wife and mother. The distinction between these worlds is represented by her wedding ring, which comes off each day when she leaves the house and goes back on when she comes home. Even on the job, two Jackies emerge: attentive, knowledgeable caregiver and gruff coworker. The complexity of her life and character makes Jackie one of the most interesting characters on TV.

Jackie has been on the job for quite some time, and there is little she hasn't seen or dealt with before. Still, her patience is tested when she's forced to work with two fresh-from-school newbies, Zoey (Merritt Wever), a nurse, and a doctor named Coop (Peter Facinelli). Zoey's enthusiasm and awe predictably irritate Jackie, while Coop's cavalier attitude and penchant for grabbing women's breasts when he gets nervous (the result of his Tourette's) earn her immediate distain. She's more inclined to tolerate Eddie (Paul Schulze), the hospital pharmacist who gives her pills and screws her each day at noon.

The rest of Jackie's days are routed through the freak show of the emergency room. As Jackie explains when Zoey has a moment of self-doubt, "This job is wading through a shitstorm of people on the very worst day of their lives. And just so you know, doctors are here to diagnose, not heal. We heal." That's not to say this process is easy: the cases here are both TV-show odd and compelling, including a man whose testicles have been mauled by his cat, a stoner kid who tried to shoot bottle rockets out his ass, and a dying elderly man who refuses medical treatment in favor of his wife's chicken soup.

Fortunately, Jackie's home life is less traumatic, although not problem-free. Ten-year old Grace (Ruby Jerins) has become obsessed with Armageddon and plagues, and Jackie and husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) can't agree on the best course of action. And, of course, Jackie has to keep her drug use and affair secret.

This is a lot of action for a half-hour comedy, but Nurse Jackie is tightly written, with comedy emerging from small moments that add little to any given story arc. (After losing a patient, Jackie and fellow nurse Mo-Mo de la Cruz (Haaz Sleiman) lie in the pews of the chapel and contemplate what would be the appropriate side dish to serve with John the Baptist's head: cole slaw? mac and cheese?) A good deal of the humor comes from the most strident character, hospital administrator Gloria Akilitus (Anna Deavere Smith), who accidentally Tazers herself in one episode and becomes high after drinking coffee laced Jackie's percocet in another.

Much press has been devoted to Edie Falco's return to TV, and she is dynamic in the role. Still, the strength of Nurse Jackie lies in its smart, respectful examination of a nurse's life, grounded in a true appreciation for the thankless job nurses perform. As the show has it, that job can lead to disconcerting moral dilemmas. Jackie is not above breaking the law to achieve the greater good for her patients: she forges one patient's organ donor card so his death isn't a complete loss and steals from an arrogant wealthy patient to give to a young pregnant woman whose boyfriend has died. She also flushes an ear down the toilet so that it can't be reattached to its owner, who lost it while slashing up a prostitute.

While such antics could seem unbelievable, they are made more convincing with the help of first rate regulars and guest stars. Episode Six ("Daffodil") features the trifecta of Judith Ivey, Blythe Danner, and Swoosie Kurtz, while Eli Wallach is moving as the dying man in "Chicken Soup." Most moving is Tomorrow Montgomery as a girl who balances fourth grade with caring for her Lupus-ridden mother. Nurse Jackie offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy. Fans of Carmela Soprano may tune in at first to see Falco, but they'll want to spend more time with Nurse Jackie Peyton.

9

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.

Film

15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.

Music

Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.

Music

Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.

Music

Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.

Music

Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.

Music

Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.

Film

The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.

Music

British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.

Film

Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.

Music

​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.

Music

The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Music

Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.

Television

How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.

Music

Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.

Music

CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.

Music

Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.

Music

While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


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.