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Nurse Jackie

Nurse Jackie Clyde Phillips Edie Falco

Nurse Jackie is the weekly TV program Edie Falco did after The Sopranos wrapped. I was thinking while I watched an episode via Netflix recently that my mother, who was a nurse 'back in the day,' would love the show.

But then I considered the drug-addicted character Falco plays and I thought ... oh, maybe not. Mom has a sense of humor about nursing but she has old-fashioned ideas about what kind of stories ought to be told.

Jackie as portrayed in the series is such a mess of a human being that it is hard to imagine the series having been a hit without the genius of Ms Falco. She had made Carmela Soprano sympathetic, she could do so with Jackie Peyton.

I was fascinated by a subplot of episode 4, season 1, in which Jackie's daughter Grace is diagnosed with having an "anxiety disorder" on the basis of such facts as that, when encouraged to draw something with crayons, she created a picture with grays and blacks, i.e. with no proper colors. Jackie's reaction (and that of her husband, Kevin), is that this is no disorder at all. The girl simply has a personality, and the fact should not be medicalized. Indeed, they profess to see artistic talent in the gray-on-black drawing they are shown at the parents-teacher conference.

But later, we see Jackie consider that perhaps the teachers have a point. That in turn is important to her willingness to question the consequences of her addictive behavior for the people she loves.

It was a multi-dimensional approach to a rather minor-key development in the lives of these characters, and I applaud the writers for it.


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