Binge Guide

Weekly Binge: Nurse Jackie

by | April 8, 2015 | Comments

Hello, Nurse! Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, returning on Apr. 12 for its seventh and final season, is a show on many people’s “I’m gonna get to that” list. It’s totally binge-worthy, so here’s what you need to know before starting. Could be just what the doctor — er, nurse — ordered.


Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie

What’s the premise? A pill-popping nurse in a frenzied New York City hospital struggles to keep a handle on her addiction and deal with a destructing marriage while tending to patients in need.

What’s it like? Sort of like a Grey’s Anatomy on steroids (or Vicodin, Xanax, Oxycontin, Adderall, or Percocet), Nurse Jackie has become a reference point for shows dubbed “dramedies.” Its charming treatment of real-life anguish steers viewers into a place of hope, connecting us to these wondrous and fragile characters. Due to its succinct thirty minute episodes, Jackie often ends up on “comedy” lists for award nominations, but its comedy is fueled by an honest portrayal of tragedy, with stand-out comedic performances by Merritt Weaver (Zoey) and Anna Deavere Smith (Gloria Akalitus).

Where can I see it? Nurse Jackie can be found on Showtime (online with subscription), Amazon Instant Video, Vudu, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox Video, and XFinity by Comcast. All six seasons are also available on DVD/Blu-Ray for all you old-schoolers. Season seven premieres Apr. 12, on Showtime.

How long will it take? There are six seasons and a total of 66 episodes. With each episode running around 30 minutes, it’ll take you a total of 33 hours. You may want to schedule a visiting nurse to bring you food and fluff your pillows while you watch.

What do the critics think? Nurse Jackie is Fresh as far as the critics are concerned. Season one is Certified Fresh at 95 percent, while seasons two through five are 75 percent, 80 percent, 100 percent and 71 percent respectively on the Tomatometer. Season six drops a bit to 67%. Over the years, critics have responded positively to the show. Of season five, Matthew Gilbert from the Boston Globe said, “It’s honest, credible, trustworthy storytelling.” Matt Roush of TV Guide reviewed season four, calling it “one of TV’s most uncompromising dark comedies.” Of season one, Popmatters’ Michael Abernathy said Nurse Jackie “offers both gripping drama and outrageous comedy.” Since its debut in 2009, Nurse Jackie has been a standout work that has fans and critics laughing and crying along.

Why should I watch this? In the role of Nurse Jackie, Edie Falco has been nominated for five Emmys, one of which she won in 2010 (the show itself won three additional Emmys), and she’s also been nominated for six SAG Awards and four Golden Globes. But one stellar performance is not reason enough to get addicted to a TV series. Excellent supporting players and gripping scripts make Nurse Jackie a winner with its perfectly balanced combination of funny and sad. Many may suspect that Nurse Jackie is more of a “women’s show,” but the issues of addiction and adultery resonate across genders. And ultimately what keeps everyone coming back is the biting hilarity of the dialogue.

What’s my next step? Edie Falco’s award-winning performance on The Sopranos should be your first step. Grey’s Anatomy is an obvious choice for those who are addicted to medical dramas. And another current medical drama is NBC’s The Night Shift. Highly recommended, though, is the short-lived Laura Dern- and Mike White-created TV show Enlightened, which has a similar tone to Nurse Jackie. For those who enjoy more traditional medical dramas, there’s ER, Chicago Hope and the short runs of Trauma Center and Monday Mornings, but for sitcom-style medical antics, try Scrubs. Jackie costar Peter Facinelli can now be seen on American Odyssey. Fans of the show should also enjoy the Certifed Fresh shows The Good Wife and The Knick, which stars Clive Owen as the cocaine-addled Dr. Thackery in turn-of-the-century New York City. On the film side, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is worth watching for its critique of healthcare institutions and Erin Brockovich shows another funny-yet-serious depiction of strong women making a difference.

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