Edie Falco: Playing Nurse

Posted by Dan May 22nd, 2009 at 11:24am In General

Edie Falco has a thing for playing brassy, plainspoken ladies. Maybe it’s just a function of her New York accent and Long Island upbringing.

But the character on her new show, Nurse Jackie, is no exception.  Jackie doesn’t have much in common with Carmela Soprano, but you really don’t want to screw with either of them.

Nurse Jackie is Showtime’s new dark medical comedy. While medical genre may seem a bit played-out, it’s got nothing on the ever-blossoming “how do we solve this grotesque murder?” genre. So I’m fine with it.

The story goes like this: Jackie is a veteran ER nurse at some sort of gritty urban hospital (which, somehow, appears to have a church adjoined to it — which leads to nuns randomly walking by every once in a while). Jackie’s a workaholic and she’s good at her job, but she appears to have no problem at all breaking rules to do what she think is necessary for her patients. This is evident in the first few minutes when she forges the organ donor part of a dead patient’s driver’s license (after taking a bump of prescription drugs so she could make it through her shift).

Other things to know about Jackie:

  • She’s got a bad back
  • She’s banging an ER doctor on the down low
  • Her best friend is a brilliant English doctor and her best confidant is a gay male nurse named Mohammed

Nurse Jackie has all the elements of a successful premium cable show: a critically beloved star, enough blood and swearing to remind you this isn’t network TV, a well meaning but conflicted anti-hero (not necessarily, though, a truth-telling anti-hero asshole with a heart of gold — she’s not enough of an asshole and her heart isn’t necessarily made of gold — you’ll see what I mean). On the whole, the show blends the misanthropy and character drama from House and brings in some of the whimsy and soapiness of Scrubs.

The show’s series premiere could have had a bit more punch, but I’m willing to cut it some slack. There was a lot of exposition to get out of the way in a scant 30 minutes.  I can’t vouch for this show yet, but it has promise. Aside from a surprise at the end of the premiere, the show hasn’t set up a lot in terms of ongoing conflicts. But, just like The United States of Tara (sort of) gained steam and conflict as its season developed, I think Nurse Jackie will get more action-oriented as the season goes on.

And with Nurse Jackie you don’t have to endure Diablo Cody’s self-aware quips.

The show premieres on Showtime June 8 at 10:30.

PS – Good for Showtime for having so many quality female-centric shows (The United States of Tara, Weeds, Tracey Ullman, Secret Diary of a Call Girl…).


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