Role Model Nurses.
by Meredith O'Brien
Move over Drs. McDreamy and McSteamy. Two brainy nurses have come to primetime and they’re kicking some serious behind. And they, frankly, don’t give a whit about hair gel like the Grey’s Anatomy hunky doctors do.
This month marks the beginning of two new medical shows which feature fearless, seasoned nurses. On Showtime, Edie Falco (of The Sopranos) plays Jackie Peyton, an ER nurse who’s willing to boldly flout the rules and the law for the good of her patients . . . when she’s not taking doses of ill-gotten Percocet to cope with her persistent back pain. Yeah, sounds a bit like Dr. Greg House and his nasty Vicodin habit to stave off the pain of his bum leg, but trust me, Falco’s Nurse Jackie is nothing at all like the lead character of House. For one, she’s calls patients, “Hon,” frequently physically embraces them and truly cares about their well being. Dr. House doesn’t care about patients; he cares about getting his diagnoses correct and solving medical mysteries.
Jackie is also comfortable with moral ambiguity and risks her livelihood to do what she thinks is necessary to stick up for the voiceless. For example, in the pilot episode, she forged an organ donor card for a young patient who died (following another doctor’s negligence) after a bike accident so that other needy patients could live by using his viable organs. Striking a blow for vigilante justice, Jackie flushed the ear of a diplomat who’d brutally cut and slashed a prostitute and lost his ear during the tussle, after learning that he wouldn’t be prosecuted due to his diplomatic status.
Then there’s Jackie’s complicated personal life. (House, by contrast, has no personal life.) Jackie’s married to a hot guy named Kevin who owns a bar, cooks for her and takes care of their two adorable little girls whom Jackie likes to smother with kisses when she gets home from work. So far so good. (Did I mention that he seems really sweet?) But the plain Jackie (little to no make-up, hair uncoiffed) also has some side action going on in the form of an affair with a hospital pharmacist who doesn’t appear to know that she’s married . . . because Jackie removes her wedding ring before entering the hospital. She also tells the pharmacist dude that she loves him. Complicated doesn’t even begin to cover it.