Category Archives: Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie 2/2: Twitter tweetering dickhead

I’m not sure anyone takes any notice of those signs hospitals and GP surgeries put up telling us not to use mobile phones because they ‘interfere with sensitive medical equipment’. It’s a huge fib to cover up the fact that the noise is irksome for staff. And the freeing up of this convention has impacted on medical dramas. In Holby, for example, a patient was recently seen to be blogging about the lack of bedside manners (and nurse fondling activities) of the new heart surgeon. And now, in the second of the new series of Nurse Jackie, one of the doctors regularly tweets what’s going on around him. Or more specifically, since it’s Dr Cooper, what a total ‘biatch’ Jackie is. Cooper is gunning for her, and has also put in a complaint to Gloria Akilitus about Jackie undermining his ‘authority’. This, of course, is entirely accurate. But then he is, in her words, ‘a twitter tweetering dickhead’ who can’t be trusted to concentrate on his work when he’s got his iPhone to play with.

But things are never black and white in Nurse Jackie. In this episode, she wrongly sends a family home without Cooper’s say so, whose son, it transpires, has cystic fibrosis. In most series when you have a maverick (House, for example) the flawed central character is usually brilliant at their job despite personal failings. Jackie is also brilliant at her job in the main, but she makes mistakes. Which is not entirely surprising given how many painkillers she’s snorting (yes, I know House does that too). Continue reading


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Nurse Jackie: Health Care and Cinema

In the last of the series,  Zoey is still in the doghouse wearing gloomy Eeyore grey scrubs instead of her usual pink small animal themed ones to express  remorse at sending the cinema critic into a coma with the accidental overdose. 

Jackie and Zoey are both avoiding Mrs Akilitus (the divine Anna Deavere Smith) who conveniently gets stuck in an elevator. No-one is in any rush to let her out, so after multiple failed attempts to phone the nurses’ station (they keep slamming the phone down on her), she gives up and sinks to the floor, quite literally unravelling (her skirt) and performing a David Letterman interview with herself.

The tragedy unravelling in the background is Jackie’s lover, recently redundant pharmacist Eddie (superbly played by Paul Schulze) talking to Jackie’s clueless husband Kevin in his bar, slowly getting drunker as he listens to details of how solid a marriage Jackie has. This is punctuated by Eddie’s cellphone buzzing  from calls from Jackie trying to speak to him about how to trick the new pill-o-matix vending machine that has replaced him into giving her the painkillers she is addicted to. Painful in every sense.

Meanwhile, Dr O’Hara is falling apart as she waits for her mother to be admitted as a ‘Jane Doe’ vagrant.

Good news for Zoey tho’ as the film critic wakes up from the coma. She tries to cheer him up by agreeing with his previously held loathing of Kevin Costner, only to find he can’t remember all his previous encyclopaedic knowledge of film. She has apparently ‘broken’ him, but he seems much happier for it and presumably less likely to sue.

The episode ends with Jackie on the floor having taken several tablets having a happy, cloud filled vision which gets rudely interrupted by a rat running over the light fitting.

Weird, dark, strange and disturbing and, like the rest of the series, really rather excellent.

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Nurse Jackie Episode 11: the bitterest pill

This was a tough episode, especially on Jackie’s poor, duped pill-dispenser and-lunchtime-hump Eddie. You did have to wonder why it had never occurred to him that she might be married, what with the never-seeing-him-out-of-work-time thing and all. What a lousy day at the office. Zoey walked in on him and Jackie in flagrante whilst his pharmacy was being gutted in the next room so a new pill-o-mattix machine could be put in to dispense drugs. Mrs Akilitus claimed it was the saddest day of her career, quite convincingly until you remembered it was her decision to dispense with the dispensary and his services.

The episode kicked off quite amusingly, well for me it did anyway, because I could hardly believe my eyes. There, teaching the tap class, was the one-armed evil genius Dr Robert Romano from ER, with both arms and head magically intact again after the ghastly rooftop hospital helicopter scene (never was a vehicle more accurately nicknamed than that chopper). I’m so glad he’s ok and is in another hospital drama, although I never suspected him of being a secret hoofer I must say. I was once a little in love with the little slapheaded fascist when he was a brilliant doctor. But not sure jazz hands can top surgeon’s hands really.

Anyhoo, Jackie’s underling,  the increasingly interesting student nurse Zoey, was also having a bad day after she gave a famous film critic with a broken arm an overdose of painkillers. Not a great day for drugs. This was after giving him a dressing down for disliking films with cats in them, and cats generally.

Jackie’s complicated love life got even more messy when the young fool, Doctor Fitch, dumped his glamorous girlfriend. This was because he has developed feelings for Jackie, who kissed him at the end of the last episode after he did his ‘Tourette’s’ thing (yeah, right) of grabbing her breast whilst under stress. Again. But to be honest, this time she didn’t seem to mind too much. And now he’s buying her roses and gum. Romance clearly isn’t dead.


Well it is for Eddie, for now anyway, as we left him forlornly walking away from the bar after seeing Jackie being embraced by her husband through the window. This on a day when her husband had used all his savings to replace the wedding ring Jackie got her doctor friend to saw off when it got stuck on at work (she needed to hide it from Eddie). But to hide the reason for doing this from her husband, she then broke her finger with a hammer in the toilets, then got Dr Fitch to patch it up, which is where the kissing started. Are you still following this? Ow. And indeed eugh. Yes indeed. I think, with a love life this complicated and in all senses painful, I’d probably rather stay celibate.

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Nurse Jackie: Waiting for Comedy

Episode 7, Steak knife

Given that Beckett could make great drama out of a set up where nothing happens (twice) and thereby revolutionise 20th Century theatre, maybe Nurse Jackie can do the same for TV comedy. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t not enjoy it. It was compelling – it just wasn’t comedic. Correction.  It had one great moment of comedy – like the diamond on the otherwise apparently subfusc bracelet gift from boyfriend Eddie:  the scene when Nurse Jackie’s trainee nurse is bored just staunching a wound and is sorely tempted to remove the knife from the comatose stab victim (Nurse Jackie explains ‘We don’t remove foreign objects that are protruding from the patient – that is the surgeon’s job’).

Otherwise, this was all about relationships – a complex web of relationships to be sure. But not relationships as a foil for comedy. Relationships as a foil for relationships. Perhaps the most intriguing was Nurse Jackie’s relationship with comic possibility. Maybe I’d misread (or imagined) all the pre-Nurse Jackie hype, and this was the first episode I had seen, but I was expecting her to be a smart-talking, wise-cracking, no nonsense, pill-popping … you get the picture.

But in the face of comic opportunity, she was most often compellingly silent or calmly compassionate. Lots of set-ups, no punchlines.  Example. Mrs Akilitus, the administrator – who has seemingly made a brave career switch from being White House Security Adviser (and I would have bet big on Obama keeping her on) – spends most of the episode carrying round an abandoned baby seeking its parents. Lines ready for Nurse Jackie?  Zip.  She simply spots and casually removes a paperclip from its nose.

The Estragon to her Vladimir here turns out to be an English doctor who is happily awash with booze and pills, which Nurse Jackie again watches with benign passivity. A supportive friend listening to her troubles and putting her up in her apartment for the night.

And the arc of the other threads all seem designed…

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Nurse Jackie: Sick, but in a good way

I am loving this series. It’s a cornucopia of sick delights. Last night I watched Tiny Bubbles, the episode in which a friend and former nurse colleague of Jackie with lung cancer comes into the hospital to die. Sentimental and weepy? Nah. She’s as sweet as a mouthful of borax, and our first glimpse is when she’s coughing her guts up, puffing away on a fag. “What’s the problem. It’s gonna kill me?” Since she’s dying, in fact she’s come to Jackie to ask her to kill her, she couldn’t care less what she says to anyone, which is very amusing.

She calls administrator Mrs Akalitus a naughty four letter word. I know someone saying ‘cunt’ funny is neither big nor clever, but do you know what, it’s actually one of my favourite words. Not said by men about women in a misogynist way obviously, but precisely when used in such a shocking context as an American hospital drama by someone who is dying. It undercuts everything I hate about cloying, over simplistic nonsense often found in hospital dramas (even House can be guilty of this sometimes). 

And in this context, when addressed to the picture of grace and loveliness that is actor Anna Deavere Smith (whom I last spotted playing the gracious, smart National Security Advisor, Nancy McNally on the West Wing) I found it so amusing I spat tea out of my mouth. Admittedly the character of Mrs A is a very long way from Nancy, but like everyone on this show, she’s complex and ambiguous. The nightmare clip-board wielding administrator who has moments of being decent.

Student Nurse Zoey tussles with her conscience about being involved or not in the planned assisted death. Nurse Jackie’s has sequestered copious amounts of something from her pharmacist shagbuddy (about which I do spent moments thinking ‘really? Sex standing up, whilst wearing scrubs?’ It’s the most far-fetched thing about this show for me). In the end, the staff  gather around and drink  champagne (drug-laced for the nurse I guess) whilst she gives a toast of: “Fuck you all, and here’s to me”.  Jackie then grabs the hospital priest from the bedside of another dying patient (“He has ten minutes left and I need you for five”) to give her the Last Rites. Beautiful.

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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.

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