Review: Nurse Jackie

For GRACE RIGG Nurse Jackie isn’t half as dark or funny as it thinks it is.

Falco Medical Nurs Jackie TV

There are in my mind two sorts of medical dramas; American and British. And then within the British category there are those that are good (Green Wing and No Angels) and those that are bad (Holby and Casualty). The bad British are for the family. The good British are for the youth. The American ones are for the single lady (ER and Grays Anatomy). I believe this to be broadly true and in general I prefer the American and good British as I am young and without family. To clarify I am not an orphan but have not bred myself.

Nurse Jackie is the American brand of medical drama but differs somewhat from the mould. No smoking hot male Dr(s) in sight. In fact it is distinctly lacking in good looking people, which is different from all of the above examples. It is on Monday nights BBC 2. In describing itself as a “dark comedy” it is deluded.  It isn’t truly “dark”, if anything I experience a “light” uplifting feeling when viewing. It isn’t really a comedy either, as a comedy should be jokes with some plot whereas this is PLOT with some jokes-thus a drama. However, it is worth watching for the genius performance of the student nurse. Every time Zoey played by Merrit Wever enters shot my heart leaps and my smile spreads. Her face is brilliant. Honestly she has, in my mind, stolen the show with limited lines but cracking timing and that brilliant face. Her character is charmingly innocent and hilariously awkward.

Nurse Jackie (drug taking, adulterous, but damn good nurse) on the other hand does piss me off somewhat. I think we are meant to love her. I don’t. I thought I did. But I really don’t. She’s like an annoying friend who you have to have coffee with whilst they complain and complain about how difficult their lives are. As you walk away from the cafe you reflect. And on reflection you realise that every single one of the problems said friend offloaded onto you, she caused. The reason things are so “terribly awkward” between said friend and flatmate is because said friend slept with flatmate even though said friend had boyfriend. Furthermore the reason boyfriend is such a clingy weirdo is because said friend says “love him, love him not”, like she’s picking off daisy petals. The reason said friend can’t afford coffee is because she spends all her money on booze and fags.

 Let me get back to the point.  I hope this show has one big bloody dramatic twist to explain why Nurse Jackie is intent on sabotaging her seemingly lovely life. She has two gorgeous daughters and one above averagely looking husband who runs his own bar. Furthermore her best friend is supportive, rich, generous and funny (such friends are rare indeed).   Other complaints of this show are that the male nurses are all gay. And not just gay. But Hispanic, finger snapping, “hey sister” calling gays. Now I think the programme has missed an opportunity to step away from a stereotype, a least a little bit. It’s not that they have cast the male nurses as gay, as I am more than sure that lots of male nurses are gay, it is just that they are such shallow caricatures. The last little niggle I have is the persistent slow mo, close detail shots of Jackie snorting/gulping whatever it is she snorts or gulps. It is like Brixius (creator) is sounding an alarm to her audience, “look, this is an EDGY medical drama”. Watch it though. It is good enough to do that, if only for Merrit Wever. Who, incidentally, has the same charm as Ruby Bentall as Minnie in Larkrise to Candleford. The joy of watching Larkrise has been soured since I found I share it with the likes of chameleon David Cameron-yuk. To conclude Nurse Jackie is an American medical drama which differs from the norm and is meant to shock. I don’t think it will shock you but I think you will engage with the contradictory and frustrating character of Jackie. And I think you will only laugh when student nurse Zoey pulls a funny.