After Edie Falco gave such a stunning performance as Carmela Soprano in the HBO series, most of us expected it would take a while for another role to come along which would use her creative juices in such a magnificent way. Little did we know the next great role was just around the corner.
Nurse Jackie is now starting its third season and Falco has laid claim to another great role and has filled it with one great acting performance after another. Jackie Peyton (Falco) is a polar opposite of Carmela but she is also pure Falco. In the series Jackie is a nurse, a wife, a mother, a co-worker and a lover. She is complex to the max but also simple in her devotion to her family and to her job.
Oh, and did I mention she is a drug addict? At the end of last season her husband Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) and her best friend Dr. Ellie O'Hara (Eve Best) staged an intervention with her. It did not go well. In addition to being an addict Jackie is an accomplished liar and she talked her way out of everything -- at least on the surface. At the start of this season her marriage is hanging on by a thread and her friendship with Ellie seems to be over.
Falco is lovable and detestable as Jackie. You want to hate her for her addiction and how it imperils her relationships. You want to hate her for her sexual affair with Eddie (Paul Schulze) who now is her husband's new best friend. You want to hate her for manipulating people to do her bidding. But you just can't. Not when you see how sincerely she loves her girls and yes, even her betrayed husband. She also deeply cares for her patients and her co-workers. She is Jackie, flawed and imperfect and you can't help but love her. It takes some brilliant acting chops to create a character of this duality that we have to see every week.
Falco also brings out the best in her supporting cast. Peter Facinelli is pitch perfect in his smarmy portrayal of Dr. Fitch Cooper. Merritt Wever is endearingly clingy as nurse Zooey Barkow. And Anna Deavere Smith is hilarious as the manager of the hospital. Add these performances to those of Best, Fumusa and Schulze and you have a repertory company of grand proportions.
If you haven't been a viewer of Seasons One and Two, don't worry. You will soon fall headfirst into the world of Nurse Jackie, and what a world it is. It is a place where the entertainment value is high and the beauty of Falco's performance even higher.
All hail Edie Falco and long may she reign as one of TV's brightest and most talented stars.
Nurse Jackie premieres on SHOWTIME, Monday, March 28 at 10PM.
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