An actress, even a great one, always faces a challenge of finding any decent work after coming out of a TV show. It’s especially challenging coming out of a groundbreaking show like The Sopranos . Before she was just some unknown from somewhere who played in, that girl in that movie starring that guy. Now whenever she performs, she can only be seen as that character. Edie Falco is one of those rare stars who starred in not one but two groundbreaking shows. First was HBO’s one hour drama Oz and of course, The Sopranos; the show that proved TV dramas can be as compelling as a movie. Now with a purple uniform and a bottle of Vicodin, she wipes the slate clean of Carmela Soprano and shines through as Nurse Jackie in a dark medical dramedy about the trials and tribulations of a drug-addicted nurse. Though not groundbreaking, Nurse Jackie still delivers episode after episode of hilarious yet realistic moments, unforgettable characters and human drama.
Jackie Peyton (Falco) is not a typical white hatted nurse from Dr. Kildare. She grinds up and sniffs Percocet. She has sex with pharmacist Eddie (Paul Schulze) in the medicine room to get more Percocet. She even flushes an ear down the toilet (to be fair, the ear belonged to a perverted diplomat who sexually assaulted a girl). And this is just the first episode. Falco portrays Jackie as a world weary woman who faces long, hard days with a no nonsense attitude while keeping her sense of humor intact. At times, Jackie risks her career to help out a fellow patient, allowing an illegal immigrant to escape the police. In the end, she goes home to her bar owning husband Kevin(Dominic Fumusa) and daughters, Grace and Fiona.
She would like to believe she’s able to keep her work and family life in order, but like everyone else she has problems. Her daughter Grace is suffering from anxiety so severe she’s literally pulling her hair out.
At work, she has to deal with two new recruits. First is the overly perky new nurse Zoey (Merritt Wever) who’s has yet to handle the inevitable difficult conditions. Second is Dr. Cooper (Peter Facinelli), an overconfident, youthful med student who cares more about his twitter page than his responsibilities. Doesn’t help that he has a twitch that causes him to touch people in inappropriate places.
Her addiction to sniffing prescription pills, made even worse when Eddie is laid off and replaced with a computerized prescription system. This forces her to take such measures as prescribing under others names and buying from other pharmacies. In the second season, work comes to her house when the obsessed Eddie befriends Kevin to get closer to Jackie.
The life of a nurse is portrayed with surprising realism. Every day, Jackie and other nurses work exhausting long hours to tend to brutal injuries, difficult patients and even death. And they are often faced with morally complicated decisions. Most notably in the episode, Tiny Bubbles, when a former nurse and friend of Jackie is in the later stages of lung cancer. For her birthday, she would only like a glass of champagne with a fatal dose of morphine. This conflict is dealt with pure human honesty with no preaching. The audience sees the issue and decides for themselves.
The DVD’s include interviews with real life nurses telling their amusing stories. Among the favorites is one nurse who talks about how she met a fellow nurse who would become her husband.