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Nurese JackieAt first glance, Nurse Jackie Peyton seems like the perfect professional. She’s knowledgeable, neatly dressed, and cares deeply about her patients. But as viewers of Showtime’s 1st season of Nurse Jackie know all too well, she also happens to feed a prescription painkiller addiction by having an affair with her hospital’s resident pill pusher. Shot through with Showtime’s trademark combination of drama and dark, quirky comedy, the show and its star—former Soprano Edie Falco—have won widespread critical acclaim. 


With the show debuting March 22nd, Dish sat down with some of the cast and crew to get the prognosis on the 2nd season. We asked Edie Falco whether she expects the new season to be as big as the last. “I think you can never anticipate that,” she replied. “I can speak for myself only in that I don’t have a finger on the pulse of anything, so I have no idea what people are going to watch or what they aren’t.” She added, “Still, my success is an embarrassment of riches from my standpoint.”


With so many hit shows behind her, Dish wondered how she picks her work. “The only criteria I have is that I am interested in it, and I’m interested in these characters and these actors and these directors and all the people involved, so if you’re lucky, an audience will come along.” 


Executive producer Richie Jackson agreed, “I would just say that Edie and I used to lean up against the wall during shooting and say, ‘We don’t know if anybody will watch it, but we are proud of it, and we enjoy doing it.’”


Falco also took a moment to discuss what it’s like to take on a role like Nurse Jackie. “I read it, and immediately felt some sort of visceral connection to her. On some level, I kind of got a feeling of her internal journey in a weird way, but the best stuff also continues to surprise me every step of the way.” As for Season 2, she added, “If you’re lucky enough to have a second season, it starts to grow more roots in you, and becomes even more thrilling to continue to investigate.” 


With its eccentric tone, a mixture of high drama and sardonic humor, Nurse Jackie will have plenty of company on Showtime. Between Weeds, Dexter, and The United States of Tara (just to name a few) the premium cable network has all but cornered the market on the dramedy genre. Executive Producer Liz Brixius claimed that any similarities in tone among the shows is purely coincidental “We’re just trying to tell the truth and capture the absurdity of stuff that goes on and, I think the tone comes up from that, but we’re never tone-versed. We’re actually Jackie-versed, and these quirky people who just – they’re not deliberately quirky. We just have these actors and these characters who are tangentially funny.”


Nurse JAckieWhen it comes to Nurse Jackie herself, “quirky” doesn’t quite cover it. Falco’s conflicted R.N. saves lives one second, and is high on Vicodin the next. Executive Producer Linda Wallem admitted, “She’s flawed, she’ really flawed, and it’s fun to see her – I think people are complicated, and I don’t think she does shitty things. I think she does ‘human’ things. She’s profoundly human at times, and then tries to make up for it. It’s really fascinating. It’s like a roller coaster to find out what she’s going to do, good or bad.” 


Falco, herself, admitted that while the character is a lot of fun to play, she wouldn’t exactly like to have a girl’s night out with her. “I wouldn’t go anywhere near her, to be honest with you. But the fun factor is very large for me. I would have to say the main reason is that she spends no time concerned with the ramifications of the things she says and does. She has one goal in mind, and I think that’s for the most part to help people.” 


Falco explains the allure of playing the good nurse. “She spends really very little time trying to figure out what other people will think about what she does, or what she says. I spend entirely too much time, and it just feels lovely to just imagine what that would be like, to just go from that place and let the chips fall where they may.”


Nurse JackieSo what do fans have in store for season two? Adding to the drama, Jackie’s rock-solid hubby Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) begins to reveal his darker side. And of course, Jackie still needs to get her fix. Linda Wallem promises, “I think in Season 2 you’ll start to see some dents, which is great.” 


Viewers will also get to know the rest of the characters better. “You know, the first season was very Jackie-centric,” Brixius said, “and everybody was pretty ancillary. And then we wanted you to get to know more of them in the 2nd season.”  


Peter Facinelli, who plays the arrogant Dr. Fitch "Coop" Cooper, added, “What I like about the new season is, the first season felt like an introduction to these characters. Now that you know these characters, they get to run and play.”


What about last season’s cliffhanger, Dish wondered, with Jackie Peyton passed out in a morphine haze in an empty hospital room? Will season two pick right up from there? 


“No,” says Exec Producer Wallem, “We want to jump time. I think the audience is smarter than that. Let’s show ‘what has she done?’ She is so good at covering stuff, but still there’re lots of consequences that she has to deal with in the whole new season.”


Find out what happens next… when Nurse Jackie begins again on March 22nd at 10 pm ET/PT on Showtime. / Issue 108 - September 7209
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