Review: Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie

Cynthia Parsons McDaniel reviews Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie.

Don’t Miss

Review: Edie Falco’s Nurse Jackie

All hail the return of Edie Falco to the small screen!

-Cynthia Parsons McDaniel

Edie Falco as Nurse JackieJust when you thought Edie Falco had played her best – and most controversial – role ever, in The Sopranos, along comes Nurse Jackie. Airing Monday, June 8, on Showtime, Nurse Jackie is a compelling, heart-wrenching new series based on the diary of a real ER nurse in the emergency ward of a major New York Hospital.

“We are living in a pharmaceutical world and she’s just a pharmaceutical girl.”

Part Florence Nightingale and part Lady Macbeth, Jackie Peyton, a blue-collar working-class mom and wife, takes charge of one of the most stressful work environments possible. I watched with deep fascination just how complicated a married mother of two can be. Jackie navigates daily the treacherous waters of people in crisis as they pass through her emergency room, while attempting to manage her own demons and family crises.

Imagine the access to the drugs in a hospital … and then imagine Jackie’s dark side in obtaining them daily from the man with whom she has her noontime tryst. Jackie, of course, is what is known as a functioning addict.

Edie Falco as Nurse JackieThere are so many funny moments in which we see how her brilliant mind works under the demanding, spur-of-the-moment decision-making challenges she constantly faces. Honestly, can you think of more stressful job than working in the emergency room of an NYC hospital?!

Of accepting the role, Falco said, “I started reading a lot of scripts and I thought I would when the right scripts came – and that’s what happened.”

In one typically funny scene, Nurse Jackie she makes a joke about her daily trysts with the head doctor who runs the pharmaceutical dept — her department head thinks she’s making a joke. She’s not.

Falco has three Emmys under her belt, and I bet she wins another one for this. This show is brilliantly written; sardonic and perfect for our times.

Retribution is the major thread of the series. Another layer of the show is Jackie’s addiction to pills and powder. She has access to a real smorgasbord of colors and chemicals; the show is a daily excursion into the soul of a functioning addict. One of her daily goals the second she wakes up is to find and consume pharmaceuticals to get things rolling. She’s like a kid in the candy store working at a hospital!

Jackie’s lover always has something to surprise and sooth her; he certainly always seems to know what she needs. Finding drugs and taking them, whereever and whenever, is the link between accidents and emergencies and just living her life with her family. There will be many viewers out there who will be able to relate to this show and the dangers of prescription-pill addiction. We get a bird’s-eye view into the coping skills required of people who deal with demanding, stressful jobs like Nurse Jackie. In fact, it’s hard to judge her moral fiber as she seems to do so much good for people. Mix and match is what Falco does, whatever she needs to get through that particular day. For me, that is the most heartbreaking theme of the show.

The most amusing – and brilliant – part of the series is that, when someone has been truly evil, Jackie must step in and teach a lesson. For example, she has to deal with the aftermath of a bike messenger accident. On her way home from the hospital she sees a bike messenger and warns him to take care; he tells her f— off.

You see Jackie slowly take her sharpest object from her bag and silently spear through his back tire. He needed to learn a lesson in manners …

Also starring in Nurse Jackie along with Edie Falco are the wonderfully gifted Victor Garber, Blythe Danner, Eli Wallach, Swoozie Kurtz and Judith Ivey. Truly a Don’t Miss!

Nurse Jackie Photo Credit: Christian Weber/SHOWTIME

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