Getting You Up To Speed: ‘Nurse Jackie’

| Movie Editor
Courtesy of Showtime

Showtime’s dark comedy “Nurse Jackie” returns tonight, bringing with it laughs, tension and a handful of pills. Edie Falco stars as nurse Jackie Peyton, an emergency room nurse who doesn’t always follow what she recommends. She pops pills, has an affair and nurses her own way.

Jackie doesn’t like to follow the rules of nursing, but she doesn’t care, and neither do we. In the pilot episode, which premiered last summer, Jackie’s psychopathic patient has diplomatic immunity and can’t be punished for his crimes. No doubt breaking plenty of rules, Nurse Jackie takes matters into her own hands and flushes his cut-off ear down the toilet. As I said, Jackie nurses her own way.

Elsewhere in the show, Jackie shows her equally rebellious, but less heroic, attitude, as she constantly pops pills and cheats on her husband with the hospital’s pharmacist Eddie (who incidentally gives her the pills). While many people have cited this as a reason for disliking her character, they seem to miss the internal struggle that Jackie is facing. On one hand, she is engaging in “destructive” behavior, like drugs and cheating, but she still does have at a conscience. She knows when she needs to do something morally right, even if it breaks the rules.

By the end of the first season, Jackie starts to come to terms a little bit with what she’s doing as it all falls apart. Her pharmacist boyfriend loses his job and finds out about her family. Her family misses her and wants her to stay home more. People at work question some of her tactics. She knows that her lifestyle isn’t going to continue on in the way it has, which is where the second season will pick up.

The show is livened up by an array of hilarious supporting characters. Jackie’s best friend at work, Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best), is a British doctor who is both blunt and sympathetic. Jackie also confides in male nurse Mo-Mo (Haaz Sleiman), who is one of the best characters on the show, but who will be inexplicably missing from the show when it returns. In the hospital, she has to deal with her new first-year nursing student Zoey (Merritt Wever), who seems to be somewhat inept but has a “heart of gold.” Jackie’s life is also made harder by Dr. Cooper (“Twilight’s” Peter Facinelli), a quirky new doctor with whom Jackie just can’t get along.

As the show returns, the biggest question is whether “Nurse Jackie” will be able to retain its funny, clever dialogue, along with its intriguing story line. While the first season was one of the best new shows of last year, the second has a lot to live up to. In the end, I have confidence in the show’s writers and Edie Falco. They can bring the laughs and the drama, and create a second season that surpasses the first.