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Nurse Jackie, fondly referred to by some fans 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 is, although that is true only by comparison to more sentimental hospital dramas. The strength of the show are the way it combines (often dark) humour with subtle drama, it's 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 Naive Newcomer protege, 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 its realeved he takes painkillers.
- A Friend in Need: O'Hara exemplifies this. Even though in later seasons, she has more than enough reason to avoid Jackie because of her unpredictable behavior as an addict.
- All Abusers Are Male: Averted, one patient is a man whose girlfriend managed to crack his skull out of anger. He hit her back in defence but she only suffered some bruises.
- 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 then disguise the fact that she's married.
- Big Applesauce
- The Big Guy: Thor, overlapping with Camp Gay.
- Bi the Way O'Hara; it doesn't come up until Season 2, and then it's treated like a non-issue.
- But I Can't Be Pregnant: subverted with Zoey, who can't believe she's not pregnant.
- 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.
- Dueling Shows: With Hawthorne, to some degree, although that one isn't half as provocative.
- Dr. Feelgood: a very rare sympathetic example
- Dr. Jerk: Coop, in his worse moments.
- Expy: Zoey is an expy of Alice Chantrey from Casualty.
- Friendly Rival: Coop considered he was 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: In season 1 Eddie to Jackie, although the former initially desired an emotional relationship
- Gentleman Snarker: O'Hara is a rare female example
- Has Two Mommies: Coop
- Hopeless Suitor: Eddie, different from the usual in that they're having sex throughout but he wants an emotional relationship
- Hospital Hottie: Subverted. Of course, O'Hara and Cooper are attractive (doctors) but the nurse's all wear practical shoes, have their hair short/tied up and do not wear make-up, like how real nurses would do. This actually shows the difference in work between the nurse's (who work long hours on their feet) and doctors.
- Invoked when Cooper is deliberatly choosen for an advert for All-Saints, with the tag-line "If Looks Could Cure..."
- I Cannot Self-Terminate
- 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 her
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: And how.
- 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 every season ends with her getting off scott free. In season two Keven and O'Hara find out she's an addict, but she's given near free rein in season three until her new supplier bites the dust. She then becomes sober, but not by choice. Season 3 has her Keven reveals he had an affair because he felt distant from her (she was cheating on him at the time, ironically) and she plans to divorce him. Simultaneously (and unknown to Jackie) Her boss did not give HR her urine sample, essentially getting her out of hot water at work.
- The tables are turned in the recent season when Kevin discovers about Jackie's affair and her drug use and sues for child custody.
- 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.
- Married to the Job: Akalitus. She even says the phrase verbatim when talking to a Nun on the phone.
- Moral Dissonance: Jackie, who's considered a good nurse and mother, but who's actions potentially harm that reputation.
- MD Envy: Inverted, most of the nurses and paramedics are happy in their jobs but Coop often feels the need to gloat that he is a doctor, especially over Sam, the only recurring nurse who is both straight and male. Barring Kelly, but Kelly is The Ace so gets a pass from Coop.
- Naive 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?
- One of Our Own: In season 3 Lenny, Zoey's boyfriend a EMT who delivers Patients into All Staint's becomes a patient for an episode.
- Real Life Relative: Suzie Brixius, sister of creator Liz Brixius, makes a cameo as a deranged woman.
- Recycled in Space: House, but with a nurse
- Sarcastic Confession: when Zoe asks Jackie what happened to her finger.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Jackie all the time, and to a lesser extent O'Hara
- Skewed Priorities: Arguably Jackie, depending on what you think is most important for her (Drugs or other obligations?). Definitely Coop and Zoey, at times.
- Talkative Loon: God.
- Tourettes Syndrome: Coop. His tic acts up when he's stressed or nervous, and he grabs women's breasts. It gets him into trouble sometimes.
- The Unfair Sex: Coop and Jackie's disagreement on domestic violence vs. self defense.
- Token Minority: In season one, Momo who leaves. In season two Sam. In season three, Kelly an African American temp nurse joins Sam.