Overdose: Paging ‘Nurse Jackie’.

"Life is full of little pricks."
“Life is full of little pricks.”

Over the long-weekend, one of the things I’d promised to myself was some quality time in front of the TV. I know that probably sounds like a giant waste of time, but I’m a TV-junkie, and I have a stack of DVDs that I bought months ago during a massive sale at FYE, and have yet to open most of them.

One of those was season one of Showtime’s “Nurse Jackie“. I know I’m about seven years late to the game on this one, but it’s been on my watchlist for several years – I don’t have Showtime (I picked HBO, instead), so I was constantly on the hunt for a bargain DVD of the first season. And I finally got it for $5.

My first experience with Showtime was “Dexter“, which I loved, and later saw a few episodes of “Californication” (though not enough to comment on it). Both of these shows featured characters that normally, we’d probably hate, but they also posessed qualities that made us root for them – that’s what most writers dream of.

 I’d heard similar things about “Nurse Jackie” – a nurse who is addicted to drugs. Count me in! Here’s the description from the back of the DVD:

“Three-time Primetime Emmy winner Edie Falco is “outstanding (TIME Magazine) as Jackie Peyton, a nurse trying to survive the chaotic grind of saving lives in a hectic New York City hospital. Sharp-tongued and quick-witted, Jackie’s a woman of substance who knows how to handle it all. With a white lie here, a bent rule there, and a steady dose of pain relievers for her chronic back pain, Jackie does whatever it takes to get the job done. See why critics call NURSE JACKIE “wildly entertaining (TV GUIDE Magazine) and “a habit well worth acquiring (THE WASHINGTON POST) in these bitingly funny episodes from the first season of the groundbreaking series.”

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t hooked from the start of episode one – sure, Jackie is a great nurse, and between patients, she’s in the bathroom snorting crushed percocets (sometimes vicodin). She regularly hooks up with one of the doctors that provides her pain killers, and she’s not afraid to speak her mind. But where’s the evil twist?

And in the last 30 seconds of the epsiode, Jackie arrives at home to two, cute little daughters, and a handsome husband who’s cooked dinner. NOW we’re talking!

As the episodes progress, it’s apparent that Jackie works hard to keep her lives separate – removing her wedding ring before entering the hospital, hiding her crushed pills inside empty packets of artifical sweetener, only eating lunch with coworkers, and using separate cell phones for the men in her life.

The other battle seems to be a moral one: that nurses are supposed to be healers, and saints. With her patients, I’d say Jackie has no problem reaching that status, but her demons are constantly at her heels.

Fair warning: there are spoilers ahead! So… things start to go downhill for Jackie when her sidekick Zoe catches her having sex with Eddie. Several episodes later, Eddie sees Jackie in her husband’s bar, hugging Kevin, and their daughters sitting at the bar.

Up until this point, Eddie didn’t KNOW Jackie was married, or had any children. Honestly, the season could have ended with that scene: Eddie standing outside the bar, looking through the window seeing Jackie’s other life.

But, in the episodes following, Eddie gets in deep, actually going to the bar while Kevin is working. There’s a picture of him and Jackie behind the bar, allowing Eddie the opportunity to inquire. Eddie gets the details, and even admits to Kevin that he’s seeing someone, “but she’s married, with two kids…”

He doesn’t blow Jackie’s cover, but he later arrives at the hospital, drunk as shit, and whispers to Jackie that he saw Kevin at the bar. And that pretty much wraps the season.

My only complaint? That the episodes were only 30 minutes long.

And yes, I will be searching for season two at a bargain price!

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