March 29, 2011

Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie photo credit/Netflix
Edie Falco as Nurse Jackie photo credit/Netflix

The opening episode of season 3, “Game On”, of the dark comedy, Nurse Jackie, aired last night. This show continues to deliver. Nurse Jackie stars Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, a sharp-tongued, New York City ER nurse who is a flawed, complex character – just like our current health care system.

Nurse Jackie is a drug user who is a highly functional nurse, mom, wife, and friend. At the end of season 2 she’s busted, so to speak, by her husband who then tells her best friend. Executive producer Liz Brixius remarks about season 3 “She knows that people now know, and it’s about damage control. It’s not about secrecy anymore. It’s about managing information.”

She’s also an expert at deflection. Her reserve seems bottomless. Every episode you squirm as the tension builds and you wonder when or if Nurse Jackie will ever bottom out.  The story line of this character, a high functioning drug user, makes the rest of us wonder about the friend/spouse/co-worker /family member we know or suspect of being a drug user, to sit in this gray area when we really only want to see the lives of drug users in black and white. In other words are they using or not using.

In an interview, executive producer, Linda Wallem said “We had to wear her down because the one thing that I am not interested in doing is telling the story of a conventional addiction, followed by a 12-step recovery program. They’re as ubiquitous as Target,” Brixius says. “We’re interested in somebody who is truly haunted and still high-functioning. The problem is that Jackie herself is like Robocop. She can keep going while the things around her fall apart.”

All Saints, the New York City hospital this show is set in, is facing the same economic crisis that has resulted in forced hospital closings. Mrs. Akalitus, the hospital administrator, played brilliantly by actor Anna Deavere Smith, threatens the ER nursing staff to shape up or worry about their jobs being replaced by one of the thousands of unemployed experienced nurses who are ready to work. The script points out the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, a real live controversial closure in April 2010 in NYC. She nobly states before threatening them that “Hospitals come and go. But the sick and injured keep getting sick and injured.”

Here’s a tease. This LA Times interview of the exuberant, hilarious, nursing student (who works closely with Nurse Jackie), Zoey Barkow, played by Merritt Wever, will start blogging this season. The title of her blog, “Nursing It Yo!’