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Series / Nurse Jackie

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Nurse Jackie, to which some fans fondly refer as "Nurse House", is a Showtime half-hour drama/comedy about Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), a nurse in an inner-city hospital in New York City who manages to be both a mega-bitch (with a heart!) and a life-saving Jesus in a skirt. Or scrubs, whatever.

It attracted some overstated initial hype in the USA about how dark and edgy it was, although that is true only by comparison to more sentimental hospital dramas. The strengths of the show are the way it combines (often dark) humour with subtle drama, its rounded characters and how it avoids being preachy. Jackie is bitchy, cheats on her husband and is addicted to all sorts of medication, but is still a sympathetic character.

Some other characters include Jackie's Gentleman Snarker English friend Dr. O'Hara; Gloria Akalitus, Jackie's mostly no-nonsense boss; Dr. "Coop" Cooper, a parody of the traditional supercool heroic young doctor who always seeks attention; Jackie's Naïve Newcomer protégée, Zoe; Eddie, the hospital pharmacist who was once her Hopeless Suitor drug supplier and friend but is currently playing a more neutral role in her life, and Sam, a nurse who was once a drug addict but doesn't know about Jackie's true nature.

This show contains examples of:

  • The Ace: Kelly in season 3. A Chick Magnet, a very good nurse even to the point where Akalitus compliments him, athletic, goes jogging shirtless. Later becomes a Broken Ace when it's revealed that he takes painkillers.
  • Aborted Arc: In one episode Jackie receives flowers from her dad. It is the center of much conversation, and she quickly and coldly dumps the flowers off. Her husband is equally shocked at the news of him sending her flowers. The most information we get about any of her parents is that they "are fucked up". This is never brought up again, and no reference or explanation to Jackie's family is ever made in the series.
  • All Abusers Are Male: Averted; one patient is a man whose girlfriend managed to crack his skull and kicked him in the chest out of anger. He hit her back in self-defense, but she only suffered some bruises while he was vomiting blood.
  • Anti-Hero: Jackie is a complex, conflicted person.
  • As You Know: Season 5 opens up with Jackie explaining to the audience Cruz was let go, Gloria and Jackie were re-hired after a union lawsuit, O'Hara is back from maternity leave, a new doctor has been hired, and that 4 and a half months have passed since the end of Season 4.. all within a single conversation while running down the hall.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jackie and Coop in season 1, but only on his side. Jackie was manipulating his feelings to convince him that she hit her finger to see him, rather than disguise the fact that she's married.
  • Big Applesauce: Due to the nature of their job they don't generally leave to enjoy the city sights much, but the patients are generally colorful examples of New York's neighborhoods.
  • The Big Guy: Thor, overlapping with Camp Gay.
  • Bookends: Last scene in the series mirrors the first; Jackie, flat on her back and high.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: subverted with Zoey, who can't believe she's not pregnant.
  • Byronic Hero: Jackie.
  • Camp Gay: Thor and Momo (Mohammed). It takes Zoey a while to realize this.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Jackie takes tap dancing lessons with her daughter early in the series, and later uses it to keep an inebriated Sam awake.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Momo, who was a prominent character and one of Jackie's closest friends unceremoniously vanishes from the show without explanation after season 1. His role as gay confidante is replaced by Thor.
    • After being a relatively prominent character for the first half of the show, Sam seems to quietly vanish.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Dr. Prince feels an absolute need to help people. He's trying to make the most of his life because he's dying from a brain tumor.
  • Custom Uniform: Jackie is the only nurse who wears the classical "ciel blue" (often called "hospital blue") scrubs, which was done on purpose to distinguish her as efficient and dependable.
  • Downer Ending: The hospital is shut down, Eddie accepts a prison sentence for illegally selling narcotics, Dr. Prince accepts his days are numbered due to his cancer, and after alienating O'Hara, Eddie, and Zoey even further, Jackie overdoses during a farewell party. While the showrunners deliberately left it open to interpretation as to whether or not the OD was fatal, they later stated that everything she worked for was lost and she will never be a nurse again.
  • Dr. Feelgood: Jackie is a rare sympathetic example.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Coop, in his worse moments.
    • Gloria comes off like one, but she has a Freudian Excuse for that.
  • Driven to Suicide: Being a hospital drama, it's bound to come up a few times with patients. In the final season It's implied Jackie essentially overdoses on purpose with the logic that her death will resolve everyone's lingering problems.
  • Expy: Zoey is an expy of Alice Chantrey from Casualty.
  • Evilis Hammy: Karlsen, the Norwegian Corrupt Corporate Executive, doing his best Christoph Waltz impression.
  • First-Episode Twist: At the end of the first episode, we find out Jackie is married with two daughters.
  • A Friend in Need: O'Hara exemplifies this. Even in later seasons, when she has more than enough reason to avoid Jackie because of her unpredictable behavior as an addict.
  • Friendly Rival: Coop thinks he has one with O'Hara, as she's the only other doctor on the floor. It's made the plot point of a season 3 episode.
  • Friends with Benefits: Eddie and Jackie in season 1, although Eddie wants a more emotional relationship.
  • Functional Addict: Jackie regularly snorts Oxycodone at work, but is able to function effectively as a nurse and shows no signs of inebriation. Contrast to Sam, who gets completely stoned.
  • Gentleman Snarker: O'Hara is a rare female example.
  • Groin Attack: A man in one episode ends up in hospital after his cat attacks his testicles while he was cleaning the bathtub nude.
  • Hollywood Tourette's: Coop. His tic acts up when he's stressed or nervous, and he grabs women's breasts. It gets him into trouble sometimes.
  • Hopeless Suitor: Eddie.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Dr. Coop in regards to Dr. Roman. Dr. Roman has proven to be at least borderline incompetent, but, courtesy of an audio recorded liason with Coop, blackmails All Saints into letting her stay. Cut to the opening of Season 6, where Coop, while at least having the intelligence to know that he has to keep far and away from her, firmly believes that if she wasn't working with him, she would be a viable candidate for a relationship.
  • Hospital Hottie:
    • Averted with the nurses, in that they all wear practical shoes, have their hair short/tied up, and do not wear make-up, just like real nurses. This illustrates the difference in work between nurses (who work long hours on their feet) and doctors.
    • Played straight with O'Hara and Coop. Specifically invoked when Coop is deliberately chosen for an advert for All-Saints, with the tag-line "If Looks Could Cure..."
    • Taken even further with Dr. Roman, who provided the series' first topless scene. And goes into bra and panties often.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In the second episode, Gloria accidentally gets a full dose of Percocet after stealing what she thought was Jackie's coffee sweetener.
  • It's Not You, It's Me: Inverted At the end of season 3 when Kevin confesses to Jackie that he had an affair (despite her having one as well) and she tells him to leave.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jackie. And how.
  • Job Title: Nurse Jackie.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Inverted, with a protagonist who does questionable things. Executive producer Liz Brixius even used the name Houdini to describe her. Understandable as Jackie is the main character, but nearly every season ends with her getting off scot free. In season two Keven and O'Hara find out she's an addict, but she's given near free rein in season 3 until her new supplier bites the dust. She then gets clean, but not by choice. Season 3 has Keven revealing that he had an affair because he felt distant from her, and Jackie planning to divorce him. Simultaneously (and unbeknownst to Jackie), Gloria tosses Jackie's urine sample in the trash rather than giving it to HR, getting her out of hot water at work.
    • The tables are turned in season 4 when Kevin discovers about Jackie's affair and her drug use and sues for child custody.
    • And near the end of season 4, Cruz fires Jackie, although not without taking Gloria and Eddie down first.
    • The tables are turned again at the end of season 6 Jackie makes a serious mistake at work while under the influence, Zoey calls her out on her drug use, she's confronted by Akalitus and possibly has lost her job, and to top it all off, she's arrested when cops and paramedics find a suitcase full of pills in her car after an accident
  • Karmic Jackpot:
    • Arguably Jackie. She saves lives, is considered a good person by most of her co-workers, and as a result is able to hide her secrets almost flawlessly.
    • Eventually averted as O'Hara discovers Jackie's drug problem, then Jackie goes go rehab. By the end of season 4 Cruz has fired her and Eddie and Akalitus for covering up her problem.
    • They're all rehired at the start of season 5
  • Manchild: Coop is bratty, petty, insufferable, and completely incapable of thinking beyond anything immediately focused on him. He is also utterly oblivious to how much everyone in the hospital hates his guts and is convinced he's the most popular person there. When his parents announce they're getting a divorce when he is nearing 40, he reacts with sobbing hysterics much the way a toddler would.
  • Married to the Job: Akalitus. She even says the phrase verbatim when talking to a nun on the phone.
  • M.D. Envy: Inverted; most of the nurses and paramedics are happy in their jobs, but Coop often gloats about being a doctor, especially to Sam, the series' only recurring nurse who is both straight and male. Barring Kelly, but Kelly is The Ace, so he gets a pass from Coop.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Dr. Roman.
  • Mushroom Samba: A good chunk of The Lady With the Lamp is comprised of Jackie's hallucination/nightmare while detoxing.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Zoey and, to a lesser extent, Coop.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Are you seriously going to threaten someone who's friends with a guy named Thor?
  • No Ending: The ending was left intentionally open when the show was cancelled.
  • Oh, Crap! Akalitus, when she realized that not only were the DEA agents screening for drugs, they were also screening for the absence of drugs
  • One of Our Own: In season 3, Lenny becomes a patient for an episode.
  • Protagonist Title: The eponymous nurse is the show's main character.
  • Put on a Bus: Despite spending an entire season preparing her brand new townhouse she bought for herself and her child, O'Hara suddenly decides to flee the country to raise her child in Britain. They are Back for the Finale though.
  • Recycled In SPACE: House, but with a nurse.
  • Role Called
  • Sarcastic Confession:
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!:
    • Jackie all the time, and, to a lesser extent, O'Hara.
    • Zoey gets her first chance at doing this in season 4, when she ignores Cruz's orders and leaves to pick up a patient's husband at another hospital. She's thrilled to get the opportunity.
  • Ship Tease: Cruz and Jackie. He comments She Cleans Up Nicely, and she has a dream where he kisses her.
  • Skewed Priorities: Arguably Jackie, depending on what you think is most important to her (drugs or other obligations?). Definitely Coop and Zoey, at times.
  • Talkative Loon: God.
  • The Unfair Sex: Coop and Jackie's disagreement on domestic violence vs. self defense.
  • Wham Shot: Jackie sees Dr. Prince looking at a glioblastoma chart, and she thinks it's of the patient's, But then after he goes, she sees the name on the chart and it reads, Prince, Bernard.