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Nurse Jackie Watch: "I Love Trauma"

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Last night, Showtime returned United States of Tara, with Tara having (seemingly) gotten her alters under control over the season break, and Nurse Jackie, in which Edie Falco’s character had tamed her demons—not so much. A few thoughts about the latter premiere after the jump:

What I liked: The show continues striking a good balance with its moments of dark humor. Nurse Jackie works best for me when it’s a kind of update of M*A*S*H in peacetime.* And the scene with actual gunfire—the shooting of the Virgin Mary statue—encapsulated that dark appeal for me: “She’s a mother!” was Jackie’s irritated response. I’m hopeful the show has learned how to handle the character of Akalitus, who was a weak link for me in season one; she’s still a foil and a bit of a heavy, but the first episode, at least, didn’t put her in incongruously sitcommy situations the way season one jarringly did. Finally, I’m very glad the show is dealing with Jackie’s addiction upfront and unflinchingly.

What I didn’t like: Or at least what I’m concerned about—I really hope the storyline with Eddie is not going to dominate the season as some type of reverse-gendered Fatal Attraction situation, in which he takes increasingly stalkerish actions to get close to Jackie and threaten her marriage. Mind you, I like that the show is dealing with the repercussions of the relationship and the breakup, but there’s enough other interesting material here that it would be a mistake to have the show taken over by a sort of horror-movie, will-she-be-exposed / is-Eddie-going-nuts scenario.

A promising start, though: your thought, on this or Tara, are welcome. Stat!

*Speaking of M*A*S*H, one thing that Nurse Jackie has reminded me of is the difference in the two shows in their attitude toward infidelity. In M*A*S*H, not only “bad” characters like Frank Burns cheated on their spouses, but also “good guys” like Trapper and Henry Blake, and the show never took a particularly judgmental attitude or brought down immediate dreadful consequences. (Although B.J., at one point, strayed and was wracked with guilt.) Now obviously in a war zone, getting caught isn’t the hazard that cheating on a job you commute to is. But is that the only difference? Is it a function of the times? (It seems more likely that a comedy today would treat cheating—if not as an invitation for disaster—at least as less than a purely good time.) Are there different standards for male and female affairs? (M*A*S*H is just one example, but Hot Lips did cut off her affair with Frank after getting engaged.)

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