Monday, August 03, 2009

Nurse Jackie, "Nosebleed": The point of no return?

Quick thoughts on tonight's "Nurse Jackie" coming up just as soon as I send you some lice shampoo...
"Fun? This is not fun. This is f--king hard." -Jackie
We're now in the home stretch of season one, with only three episodes to go after this one, so it's time for Jackie to start experiencing the consequences of her reckless behavior. The most obvious physical one is the bloody nose she's gotten from snorting all that Vicodin. But beyond that, she has Grace (who's savvy enough to know that something bad is happening with her mom at work that Jackie brings home with her) acting out, and the ever-diligent Zoey's notebook showing that Jackie may have been at fault for Mr. Everett losing his foot, not to mention however Coop will react when he finds out that Jackie lied about him confirming time of death for the bogus organ donor.

Simply put, Jackie is out of control, and there's only so long she can get away with that before someone in her work or home lives recognizes all the lies, all the juggling, all the rules being broken. When Eddie explains the concept of parallel universes to her, it's funny to think of Jackie trying to live in two parallel worlds at once. But she's living one single life, and it's a mess, and things are likely going to get much worse for her and the people in that life.

But as good as the Jackie material is (Edie Falco being brilliant, natch), "Nurse Jackie" as a whole still has some tonal problems, particularly when it tries to be funny. Now, Merritt Wever is hilarious as Zoey, and Falco and Peter Facinelli and Haaz Sleiman have their moments of deadpan comedy wonderfulness, but so many other comic scenes are way, way too broad, whether it's the stereotypically snooty rich lady with the lice kids, or Mrs. Akalitus with the baby (and then with the baby's idiot parents).

As you're reading this, I'm at a combined CBS/Showtime/CW non-party party for press tour, and I hope to talk to Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius about the show. If nothing else, I want to get a sense of what they feel the strengths and weaknesses of this first season have been -- which, if they roughly overlap with my own, would make me feel more confident about season two.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

There is much about this series that seems very promising. The talent speaks [loudly] for itself and most of the writing, save the political commentary, seems very clever. The main character, however, seems irretrievably broken ... and nearly beyond belief. How should one feel about a person who clearly puts everything in her life second to her work? Friendship, love and even family seem to be nothing more than "time off" for our anti-hero, Jackie. Throw in her incredibly ironic disregard for her own health and you seem to end up with a central figure that makes Dexter look conservative by contrast. Trying very hard to look past all of this, I enjoyed Jackie's closing phone conversation with her daughter, and was very moved by the highly appropriate instrumental closing theme. If anyone has any information about this music, I'd be very grateful to read it. In the meantime, I've definitely got my fingers crossed for Jackie.

Joe said...

A little off topic, but while you were press touring, I took a tour of the Warner brothers lot and stood on the set of Chuck. It was Awesome.

dez said...

At this point, I don't know what to make of this show. I enjoy the acting and I like Momo and Zoey, but I'm getting frustrated not knowing why Jackie's life is so weirdly compartmentalized and how the hell she's managed to hide her marriage and kids for a year. At least Coop provides good comic relief and eye candy, too.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Dez, I don't want to give away too much from the interview I did last night with the showrunners (again it's spoiler-y enough that I'm saving it for after the finale), but we did talk quite a bit about the logistics and rationale behind her compartmentalizing, and I was satisfied with the answer.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, and one thing I guess I can say: they realize that "Tiny Bubbles" gave the wrong impression that Jackie has been at this hospital much longer than she actually has. The idea is that she's bounced around a lot of hospitals in New York (including previous stints at All Saints), but hasn't been at this one place for a long stretch, and certainly not a long enough stretch that she would have been pregnant while working here.

Robert said...

Well now that she's unstuck in time and the nosebleeds have started, we know she doesn't have long to live on the island...oh wait.

dez said...

@Robert, good one :-)

Thanks, Alan, I planned on sticking it out since I'm in so far this season, but now that I know I'll get some answers, I'm happy :-)

JanieJones said...

I'm glad that you got to speak with the showrunners. I read a article not too long ago with them on another site. I like their vision.
Last night, it was like watching a building built from thin sticks crumble. Jackie just rolled through every inappropriate action-snorting at the restaurant, nosebleed, falsifying donor organs (2nd time this season), telling the transplant team that Coop had signed off and she didn't have the time (in reality that would not happen), with Eddie on the cot, snorting some in the church while looking at the Virgin Mary while another nosebleed occurred, ripping out the page from Zoey's notebook. There was so much evidence that she is internally falling apart that it was almost unbelievable. She is searching for something to alleviate her pain. Where does it stem from? I am not talking about the chronic back pain but the internal pain that she acts out while working. Also, she obviously has lapses in judgment and time will tell if they will catch up to her. It also seems that she is the charge nurse on duty while she works (I could be wrong, I don't think there was ever any clarification of this) and I wonder how ,if she bounced around many NY hospitals, she obtained that position.
The series has had its plot derived moments but there is a layering of the character's at this point. I know with only 3 episodes left, we will be left with more questions. I'm looking forward to the rest of this season and S2 next year.
Compartmentalization is not uncommon with addiction and other behaviors. People feel as though they do have their life under control by manipulating others around them and lying to themselves. It's a defense mechanism.

Paul Outlaw said...

@ Anon 12:49

All the incidental music (including the much maligned opening title) on the show is by Wendy & Lisa. Brilliant.

Tom Farley said...

Wendy and Lisa! Paul Outlaw, I have a hunch you'd enjoy (if you haven't already) the 25th-anniversary look at "Purple Rain" in the July issue of Spin. Great fun.

It's all closing in on Jackie, obviously. I was shocked at her "we're not sisters" rebuke of O'Hara, who's the keeper of all her secrets. I know the rebuke was about O'Hara presuming that blabbing to her real sister was OK; but the Jackie/O'Hara relationship sure looks like the sibling kind to me.

christy said...

Two totally trivial things:

One, I've decided that the opening sequence of this show is the grown-up, 2000s version of the opening sequence of Clarissa Explains it All. With all the na na nas, and the main character in a white void, watching objects fly around her head. My brain just fills in the "way cool"s and "just do it"s in the appropriate places.

Two, someone mentioned this a couple weeks ago but no one else replied and by the time I saw it it was too late. But the tightness of her scrubs, to me, seems literally impossible. Do they ever put zippers or other clasps in scrubs? I wouldn't think so, but something that tight around her abdomen wouldn't fit over her head as a straight-up pullover.

Toby O'B said...

@Robert, I think you've pegged the Toobit Award for best critique by an online commenter @ Inner Toob. Great line!

From Alan's review:
"Grace (who's savvy enough to know that something bad is happening with her mom at work that Jackie brings home with her)"

Of course eventually the show's creators will have their say as to the reason behind Grace's problems. But I'm wondering if we might one day learn that somehow Grace has found out about Jackie's affair with Eddie. Maybe she was at the hospital before Jackie was aware of it, and saw her mother with Eddie sharing a quick, intimate moment in the hallway or something.

It would certainly explain why she's taken the burden onto herself as if it was her fault (as kids sometimes do during a divorce) and why she's so angry that she'd like to see the hospital burn down. (With the hospital gone, there'd be no place for her mom to meet her boyfriend - or so Grace might reason.)

Like I said, the creators probably have a different reason in mind. I'm just glad there's such a gifted actress in the role of Grace to handle the range.

Maggie said...

Toby: although I like the idea that Grace knows something, it seems more likely that she stumbled on her mom's second phone than that she wandered into the hospital on her own without being noticed. (Queens to Manhattan, alone, at her age? I can't buy it.)

In the last episode, I started wondering how it is that not one person can see that Jackie's on something, especially after nursing student Zoe pegged the temp as using right off. She's surrounded by medical personnel and doesn't exhibit one symptom? Even from the guy who is slipping her pills? It was the temp's line "it takes one to know one" that made me start to wonder. How good are the rest of these people at their jobs - or is it just a case of not wanting to see something so you are blind to it?

Is it possible that she's at the point where being high is the new "normal" and her behavior would only seem erratic if she weren't on something?

I guess when you stop and look at some of the decisions she's making, that's how her addiction is affecting her behavior. But it still seems like someone other than the temp, a complete stranger who's known her for only a few hours, would have a clue...