Give Nurse Jackie a couple of episodes and you'll find it every bit as hilarious and nerve-wracking as Weeds, its lead-in show. They make a nicely matched pair on Showtime on Monday nights, starting tonight.
And it's not just about the drugs, though that's an easy hook for both. Drugs are just one layer in a pair of half-hour shows about intriguingly multi-layered women who are at their best when they're under pressure.
The newcomer show is Nurse Jackie, which stars Edie Falco as a New York emergency room nurse who seems to be one of the few sane people at her hospital. The first episode is a little like that first episode of Mad Men, plunging you directly into her world, revealing her secrets (including a taste for snorting painkillers to keep her keel even). Her drug problem is not using drugs, but obtaining them. A quick toot of those tiny little spheres inside a time-release capsule and she's humming all day.
Her source is Eddie, the hospital pharmacist (played, in a nice bit of synchronicity, by Paul Schulze, who played the priest with the taste for Carmela Soprano's, um, baked ziti in The Sopranos). The fact that Eddie is her workplace boyfriend, with whom she copulates frantically during lunch hour, doesn't hurt - at least until the end of the day, when she goes home to her husband (Dominic Fumusa) and young daughters.
Jackie has much to cope with at work, beginning with a hot-shot doctor (Peter Facinelli) whose breezy manner barely masks his raging insecurity (when we meet his mother in a later episode, you'll understand why). There's also Zoe (Merritt Wever), a naïve nursing student who attaches herself to Jackie like a barnacle; and Mrs. Akalitus (Anna Deveare Smith), a gargoyle-like administrator and general killjoy.
For support, she's got Dr. O'Hara (Eve Best), a brusquely funny physician and best friend with a taste for expensive lunches and Jimmy Choos; the aforementioned Eddie the pharmacist; and, of course, her husband, Kevin.
It's not immediately apparent, at least from the first six episodes, where this show is headed. The obvious sources of conflict are the Eddie/Kevin thing (it's apparent who she'd choose; on the other hand, she takes off her wedding ring before starting her work shifts) and her drug problem.
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