TV is the answer

Beth Carpenter

Picture a female version of Dr. Gregory House, without a limp but with a conscience, who hides her pill addiction. With that in mind, you can come pretty close to imagining Jackie Peyton.
“Nurse Jackie,” starring Edie Falco as the title character, is about a woman who dispenses her own justice. Whether it’s flushing the severed ear of a violent diplomat down a toilet – really! – or taking money from a wealthy doctor so a poor widowed pregnant girl can take a cab home, Jackie does what she wants.
Indeed, she seems to have her own moral code: in the first episode, we see her engaging in a relationship with the hospital’s pharmacist, Eddie, who supplies her with the Oxycontin and Vicodin she needs to get her through the day. Whether it’s grinding the pills to dust so as to disguise them as sweetener, or snorting the prescriptions like a crack addict, Jackie gets down her share of illegal narcotics.
And yet, in shocking displays of hypocrisy, we see her doling out advice to drug addicts, berating them for their reliance on illegal substances. We also learn of her other, secret life, in which she is married with two children. Through all of these circumstances, she still manages to maintain moral superiority at work.
Her husband is played by Dominic Fumusa – a ’91 Lawrence graduate – and her pharmacist lover is played by Paul Schulze, and you can’t hate either of them because you sympathize with both. You also never really blame Jackie. You simply accept the duality of her life.
The supporting cast is mostly made up of hospital employees – Jackie’s boss, Gloria Akalitus, is a ridiculous and exaggerated characterization of the hospital administrator. She is played by Anna Deaveare Smith, who does well with the material she’s given, even though it sometimes flirts with farce.
Jackie’s best friend, the easy, breezy British doctor Catherine O’Hara is played to flirty perfection by Eve Best. Merritt Wever plays Jackie’s nurse intern Zoey, a girl who constantly tries to live up to Jackie’s standards, yet finds herself disappointing her role model by talking too much or by committing any of the other small infractions that occur on a daily basis.
Peter Facinelli – sadly better known for his participation in the Twilight franchise – plays the irascible Dr. Fitch “Coop” Cooper, a man with a sort of physical Tourette’s, as he describes it, that results in inappropriate touching when he becomes nervous. All of this is to say that the acting is excellent, both slapstick and dramatic, and I have yet to see a misstep.
“Nurse Jackie” airs Monday nights on Showtime and is well worth the investment of time.

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