• Publication date: April 11, 2011

Patients First, Ethics Later Nurse Jackie: Hilariously Complicated

While many hospital dramas have focused primarily upon its doctors, Nurse Jackie provides a glimpse into the lives of nurses, whose work is arguably just as important. Edie Falco (Carmela of The Sopranos notoriety) portrays Jackie Peyton, an intelligent and diligent nurse who struggles with both drug addiction and infidelity. Both vices are entangled with her job: a cocktail of Vicodin and Adderall to get through the day, and sex with the hospital pharmacist, Eddie Walzer (Paul Schulze) to obtain both drugs.

While many hospital dramas have focused primarily upon its doctors, Nurse Jackie provides a glimpse into the lives of nurses, whose work is arguably just as important. Edie Falco (Carmela of The Sopranos notoriety) portrays Jackie Peyton, an intelligent and diligent nurse who struggles with both drug addiction and infidelity. Both vices are entangled with her job: a cocktail of Vicodin and Adderall to get through the day, and sex with the hospital pharmacist, Eddie Walzer (Paul Schulze) to obtain both drugs.

Jackie's affair with Walzer to feed her drug addiction is problematic and shameful by itself; that she is happily married with two children makes the act more reprehensible. Husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) is the owner and manager of a successful bar, and remains oblivious to his wife's extramarital activities. Yet Eddie, and most of Jackie's coworkers have no idea she is married either, an image purposely propagated by removing her wedding ring before entering work each day.

Despite Peyton's demons, she is not necessarily a bad person. The nurse frequently risks her job, and perhaps even freedom to ensure her patients' well-being -- and occasionally to obtain arguably justifiable revenge. When a crooked diplomat seeks treatment for a severed ear, Jackie opts to flush it down the toilet. In another scenario she submits a falsified form to obtain a deceased patient's organs for donation. She is not afraid to confront what she perceives to be mistakes either, outright scolding a doctor for a patient's avoidable death.

The caregiver's brash temperament toward colleagues can be off-putting, but simultaneously respectable and honest. When rookie nurse Zoey Barkow's (Merritt Wever) intolerable ramblings irritate Jackie beyond restraint the response is curt: "I don�t like chatty. O.K.? I don�t do chatty. I like quiet. Quiet and mean -- those are my people."

Nurse Jackie has a bright future ahead of it, and has garnered two Emmy Awards and three Golden Globe nominations. Viewer response has been positive, and the program is currently in its third season with no immediate end in sight.

Showing On: MBC4

Year: 2009

Duration: 30 minutes

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Starring:

Edie Falco

Eve Best

Merritt Wever

Haaz Sleiman

Paul Schulze

Dominic Fumusa

Anna Deavere Smith

Peter Facinelli

Created By: Liz Brixius, Evan Dunsky, Linda Wallem

Rating: TV-MA