TV Recap - Nurse Jackie: Sweet'n All

I offered to cover Nurse Jackie for three reasons:

1. It’s the summer and very little is on.

2. Shows on premium stations are typically a notch better than broadcast or basic cable because of the freedom they have.

3. The first few episodes are on OnDemand so I can watch them a bit ahead of schedule and therefore feel more important and critic-like.

These aren’t good reasons; which works out great because Nurse Jackie isn’t a very good show. If anything (save a few things here or there) it belongs on Lifetime more than it does on Showtime. Actually, I almost got the feeling the writers want to remind us that we are watching an edgy, premium cable show that doesn’t have to follow any rules and can “show” us everything. What comes out is a program with some redeemable moments mired in a moral flip-flopping that just gets downright annoying after awhile.

Sweet’n All refers to the Sweet and Low-esque packets Jackie puts in her coffee; the catch being that she fills these packets with crushed up Percocet for her daily pick-me-ups. Three packets get her through her day at work.

At home, Jackie is an adequate if not above average mother and wife. She gives her husband a quickie before fixing breakfast and sees the kids off to school. Hmm, maybe she is an exceptional wife. I liked this scene in the humanizing aspect of Jackie’s persona. The first episode “shocked”’ us with the knowledge that this drug-abusing, promiscuous woman had an actual family. As a follow up, “Sweet’n All” worked this out a bit.

The real fun begins when Jackie gets to work. In this case I use “fun” to mean a bunch of random crap meant to constantly make the viewer question whether Jackie is a hero, villain or some weird hybrid of the two. I felt this aspect of the show to be completely overdone. Consider these scenarios given in somewhat chronological order:

She gives away a coworker’s designer clothes to a homeless woman, gets slapped by a belligerent guy, does a hit of Percocet, throws a nurse-in-training under the bus for something she (Jackie) did, lets her boss take another hit of Percocet without knowing (a truly stupid premise), tells Dr. Cooper he is a good doctor less than one episode after telling him he sucked, shows a mother empathy over her son’s skating injury, berates same mom for not making son wear helmet, rescues heart attack victim from cab by giving him CPR and then feeds him her last hit of Percocet. Phew. Are you exhausted? I am just from typing that menagerie. It was all just too much. In fact, it was so much that I just got bored.

The episode ends with Jackie visiting her family in her husband’s bar and acting the loving mom again. I suppose Sweet’n All, and Jackie’s true use of the packets, is meant to show her character’s moral juxtaposition. I get it. Or at least I get that the writers are going for something like that. Unfortunately the positives and negatives of Jackie’s persona are soooooooo over the top that the whole thing comes off fake and forced. It’s a shame because Falco is a great actress and some of the minor characters have promise (mainly Coop and Mo-mo) but they can only carry the show so far. The rest is a muddled mess.

Doug Norrie

Doug began writing for CinemaBlend back when Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actually existed. Since then he's been writing This Rotten Week, predicting RottenTomatoes scores for movies you don't even remember for the better part of a decade. He can be found re-watching The Office for the infinity time.