"Nurse Jackie," the surprisingly hilarious show about a philandering drug addict nurse in a New York City hospital emergency room, returns for its second season tonight.
What's that you say? A show about a pill-popping ER nurse who cheats on her husband with an unstable pharmacist (points for being practical) doesn't sound all that funny to you? I know, but you're wrong.
Despite the subject matter, the show isn't as heavy as you might think -- but at the same time it's plenty heavy. Luckily, there's a nice dose of hospital whackadoo to counter our gnawing stress as we watch Jackie's life spin out of control. The levity at the hospital is so needed. Plus, those weirdo coworkers make Jackie seem normal by comparison.
Much has been written about how wonderful the Emmy-winning Edie Falco is in the role of Nurse Jackie (and she is), but it's really the supporting cast that keeps me yearning for just one more episode every time I watch.
Here's what we've got:
-The so so so funny nurse-in-training Zoey, played by Merritt Weaver. I would watch a show that was all about her. In fact, yes, Showtime, let's do a Zoey spinoff because the world needs to see how this chick navigates her day-to-day life. Shopping, dating, riding the subway ... I'd watch it all. Plus, Zoey's character has evolved since last season and she isn't nearly as timid and unsure of herself. In fact, Zoey's newfound confidence (and competence) is all thanks to Jackie, who is clearly her role model, for better or for worse. Weaver steals all of her scenes and is reason enough to watch the show.
-But wait, there's more. There's the stern but equally hilarious ER administrator, Gloria Akalitus, played by acclaimed actress Anna Deavere Smith ("West Wing"). Akalitus isn't as downright mean (or despised) as she was in Season One, and I think dialing that back just a tad does the character and the show good. She still has her steely moments, such as later in the season when a doctor comments that she doesn't think she recalls ever seeing Akalitus eat before, and Akalitus replies, "I like to hide my humanity." (My favorite scene from Season One remains Akalitus tasering herself in the elevator).
-We also have the obnoxious young hipster doctor with a bizarre form of tourettes which causes him to grab someone's boobs whenever he's being yelled at. That would be the "Face of All Saints," Dr. Fitch "Call me 'Coop'" Cooper, played by Peter Facininelli. Pretty much everyone hates the uber-cocky Coop, who seems to be going out of his way this season to single-handedly turn the world against Twitter.
-I can't forget Jackie's best friend and confidant, the ridiculously rich, ridiculously glamorous, and ridiculously British Dr. Eleanor O'Hara (Eve Best). O'Hara lives in a luxury hotel and shares with Jackie witty banter and fancy lunches. We'll see more of O'Hara's somewhat surprising personal life this season.
-My least favorites on the show (besides the children, but that's another story for another day) might be the men in Jackie's life. Her adorable but ultimately clueless husband, Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), and her repulsively needy lover Eddie (Paul Schulze). They are both fine actors but the characters annoy me. One development from last season that does get better (or maybe it's worse?) is that the dumped-and-fired Eddie continues to nurture his new friendship with Jackie's clueless husband, to an almost psychotic degree. Still, I could use less Eddie-Kevin-Weird Kid drama, and more of Jackie solving the world's problems back in the ER.
Thor (Stephen Wallem), the cake-addicted diabetic nurse is also back this season, and we'll see a lot more of Sam (Arjun Gupta). Remember the beautiful-but-stoned temp nurse Jackie sent home last season and who hissed "takes one to know one" to her as he headed out the door? Akalitus hires him as a full-time member of the staff (sadly, Mo-Mo is gone). Sam is clean and sober and Jackie still hates his guts.
"Nurse Jackie" airs on Monday nights on Showtime at 10pm (Season One's finale airs tonight at 9pm).