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TV Review: Nurse Jackie

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Nurse Jackie is an excellent example of a perfect dramady. In 30 minutes, its writers manage to cram more pathos, angst, and humor into their episodes than you might see in the average hour-long drama.

Nurse Jackie is Jackie Peyton, played by four-time Emmy Award winner, Edie Falco. Jackie is addicted to Vicodin, and married to handsome bar owner Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) but having an affair with the hospital pharmacist Eddie (Paul Schulze). She is a mother, an outstanding nurse, and as strong-willed a woman as you’ll ever meet. She is also a fabulous liar.

But not even Jackie’s skills can help her keep up the facade. This season, the series’ third, sees her world beginning to crumble. The opening episode, directed by Boardwalk Empire’s Steve Buscemi, takes up where season two left off: Jackie in the bathroom, at the mirror. She is not so much soul-searching as drug-seeking as she nearly trashes the room searching for one of her precious pills. Kevin and Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best), Jackie’s best friend, have discovered incriminating evidence of Jackie’s addictive behavior. They are hurt and angry. In the last episode, they confronted her about it. This time, when Kevin confronts her again, she manages to turn the argument around and put the blame for their troubles on him. She denies she’s done anything wrong. Yes, she is an excellent liar. Still, Kevin’s not stupid and his trust in her has dwindled. To protect their kids, he transfers sole responsibility for their schooling to himself.

Life goes on for Jackie. At work, she immerses herself in her tasks, while O’Hara tries her best to get out of being in the same room with her. It will be interesting to see where this element of the story goes, since these women were each others’ sounding boards, there for each other when no one else was.

One of the best things I can say about Nurse Jackie is that there is no filler. Each character is compelling, possessing an intense spark. Even the patients and their relatives are characters with important reasons for being. One of the most powerful scenes in this week’s episode is proof of this. A young moving man is killed when his father, his partner in the business, failed to realize his son had been crushed by a stack of boxes. The grief stricken father blames himself for his son’s death since he wasn’t able to summon help in time. He sits in the chapel with Jackie, sharing with her the last sandwich his son ever made for him. It is a somber, moving moment: an excellent example of why Nurse Jackie is one of the best shows on television.

Season Three of Nurse Jackie premieres on SHOWTIME, March 28 at 10PM ET.

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