Nurse Jackie, a dark comedy currently on Showtime, is heading into its 4th season with abandon. The poster advertising the kick-off to the newest season reads: “Out of excuses. Out of tricks. Out of control.” The subtitle follows up with: “Karma’s a Bitch.” The photo on the poster depicts Nurse Jackie walking amongst hundreds of prescription pill bottles as she drags her arms down the aisles deliberately knocking the medications off the shelves with a very focused expression on her face. The image seems to represent the singular focus of an addict on their drug of choice without concern for any of the negative consequences of their actions.
In Jackie’s case, in large part due to access to the pills provided by her job as a nurse, a mixture of OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet seems to be the medication of choice for the fictional medical professional. Over the first three seasons of the show, viewers watched her slow progression into addiction. By the end of the last season, Jackie’s life had started to unravel as a direct result of her prescription pill abuse. To the surprise of the show’s creators, they will be doing a rehab storyline for Jackie during this year’s run.
The Shows Co-Creators and Executive Producers Are Not Strangers to Rehab
The co-creators and executive producers of Nurse Jackie, Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius, are a huge part of the success of the series. Since both women are graduates of substance abuse treatment programs themselves, they can make sure that the central plot line stays true to life and believable even amongst the soap opera-like subplots and injections of comedic humor. Wallem admits she never intended for Jackie to go to rehab, but gives the credit to Edie Falco who plays the addicted nurse on the show. Wallem said the rehab storyline is “a tribute to Edie and what she has done with the character.”
Nurse Jackie Depicts an Addict Hitting Rock Bottom
By the last episode of Season 3, Jackie had definitely hit rock bottom: She had an affair with a pharmacist who helped supply her habit. She stole an entire bottle of Xanax from her daughter who was prescribed the medication for her own anxiety. She downed over-the-counter meds with beer when her supply routes dried up temporarily. By the final episode, the one person with any hope of keeping Jackie grounded and sober, her husband, announced that he was leaving.
Although the writers have to keep the plots interesting for viewers, they have done a good job of depicting a realistic, slow downward spiral that is now picking up steam quickly. It will be interesting to watch how rehab plays out for Jackie and how the writers handle her possible sobriety as so much of the show has been built around her addiction.
What do you think about the show’s portrayal of prescription drug addiction? Realistic or totally improbable? We welcome your opinions below.