Nurse Jackie: No lady with a lamp

I’ve come late to Nurse Jackie, but I’m pleased to have found it. Starring the brilliant Edie ‘Carmela’ Falco in blue scrubs, I love the fact that the whole of the first episode had her struggling through a day at work (including a quickie in a cupboard), with an entirely realistic looking bad back. I’ve had days like that. Without the cupboard sex. Or snorting the contents of illicit pain pills. Or dealing with a teenager off his tits on drugs who has scrotal burns from blowing a candle out of his arse. Oh yes, or flushing a severed ear down the toilet after yelling ‘fuck you’ into the bloody lobe.

The ear bit reminded me of the first episode of Nip/Tuck, in which an end-of-her-tether Joely Richardson *flushes a pet hamster down a toilet. Psychotic female behaviour a la Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (a packet of valium liquidised in gazpacho -my favourite ever  psycho recipe). 

*The flushing device only really works effectively in American dramas though, because of their flat pan toilets, where you see the object swirling round.

Nurse Jackie is not a medical drama like House, where medical staff are totally dedicated to their work, neither are the doctors in any way heroic. Quite the opposite. The character of Nurse Jackie is presented as morally and ethically flawed (despite the cupboard sex, she has a husband and kids at home) but with a kind of ‘saintly’ deep commitment to her patients, with greater knowledge and insight than many doctor colleagues. It’s her that spots a brain bleed on a bike messenger, although the attending doctor dismisses her when she tells him. The patient then dies and she fakes an organ donor card for the dead guy. His impoverished and heavily pregnant girlfriend comes in, but ends up begging for an organ to sell because she’s so poor. Unable to afford the cab fare home, at the end of the episode, Jackie has stolen her some cosy boots and a wad of cash. The money is from the pocket of the severed-ear guy whom we know to be a baddie because his ear was cut off by a prostitute after he had repeatedly stabbed her. The police can’t prosecute him because he’s from the Libyan Embassy, which is why Jackie flushes his ear down the pan.

Apart from adoring seeing the ever watchable Edie Falco land such a plum role, what I enjoyed about this drama was the way it addresses the real/dark side of medicine. Doctors being arrogant or careless, nurses fucking up after working too much overtime, or high on painkillers due to a bad back. Uncomfortable to be sure, but gripping nonetheless.

Posted by Inkface

3 Comments

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3 responses to “Nurse Jackie: No lady with a lamp

  1. Thank you for bringing this to my attention Inkface. I started watching the first ep on Catch up at Friday lunchtime (Friday afternoons being the only time when I don’t have work/small child/or addicted-to-police-chase-telly husband to stop me watching what I want) and watched all four episodes back to back. Brilliant!

  2. Lynda

    Nurse Jackie is my new favourite series after “Breaking Bad”. (How can you not love a series about a chemistry teacher, with lung cancer, who decides to start cooking crystal meth to pay his health bills?)