[Spoiler warning: this covers the entire first season of Nurse Jackie. If you haven’t yet watched it, I encourage you to do so.]
Back in June, I asked if there was room in my small, dark heart to love another TV nurse. After two episodes, I wasn’t sure how I felt about Nurse Jackie. But as the weeks ticked on, I started to fall for the show, a little bit at a time.
Things started getting good in the third episode, as a subplot involving the older of Jackie’s daughters, Grace, and her mounting issues with anxiety. Anxiety doesn’t get much play time on television – Degrassi gave it a little bit of treatment with Paige when she started college – but not really, and especially not a continuing plot arc with a child. As someone who started getting really panicky in elementary school, I applaud the visibility of the issue. Also appreciated: Jackie’s wavering feelings on the topic. In one of the later episodes, Jackie’s best work friend, Dr. O’Hara (love her), calls Jackie out for sounding angry about her daughter’s condition, to which Jackie asks, who gets mad at her daughter for something she can’t help? It’s an honest reaction/interaction and that side of the story is just as deserving as the anxious child.
It was episode six, however, that really anchored my love of the show and its characters. In that episode, a retired, and dying, nurse comes into the hospital to seek Jackie’s assistance in suicide. The nurse makes sharp, sarcastic Jackie look like Susie Sunshine, but her fierceness in death makes her just as loveable as Jackie. Double bonus for episode six: this is when we find out Dr. Cooper has two mommies. And, check it, they’re normal. Like, actually human beings, and treated like every other couple on television. Revolutionary!
Treatment of gay characters (there are two gay male nurses) is a continuing bonus of Nurse Jackie. In the season finale, Mo-Mo and Dr. Cooper are bemoaning their love lives while working on a patient. Mo-Mo says how his boyfriend has a thing for straight guys and open relationships. The patient (middle-age male) tells Mo-Mo he’s got to make his boyfriend jealous. Dr. Cooper swoops in with the idea for a fake kiss with Mo-Mo to send via text to the boyfriend. Revolution, part two. (Really, honestly, I can’t stress how awesome it is to see homosexual nonchalance on television. Maybe making a big deal of it is counter to that idea, but it’s so damn unusual that it can’t go unapplauded.)
What I’m still questioning is this: where do we go from here? By the end of the season, Jackie’s at-work boyfriend has discovered Jackie’s marriage and children, though the viewer is left not knowing if he’s spilled their relationship to Jackie’s doting husband. We also don’t know why Jackie’s been cheating or why she’s so deep in the pill habit that she downs three vials of morphine at the end of the season finale. In interviews, Edie Falco has said that’s part of the mystery, not spelling it out, which I can totally agree with, but I at least need some crumbs. Mysteries aren’t much fun without clues to keep us guessing.
Other issues in the last episode are the stuff of season finales: will Zoey get the boot for almost killing a patient? What’s the deal with Dr. O’Hara and her mother? Will Dr. O’Hara be able to forgive Jackie for ditching her?
At this point, I can safely say that I can’t wait for the second season to find out what happens.