On her way home, Jackie says in a voice-over that if she were a saint, she'd be like St. Augustine, since he wasn't going to give up his earthly pleasures until he was good and ready. She says, "Make me good, God -- just not yet."
That's not a bargain with God. That's a Hollywood mantra.
Showtime thinks all the fun in "Nurse Jackie" comes when the nurse plays God. She forges a dead man's driver's license to make him an organ donor. She robs a rich doctor to give to that dead man's poor and pregnant girlfriend. She takes the severed ear of a woman-beater and flushes it down the toilet.
As The New Yorker put it, "She has a habit of throwing the ethical rule book away, and the cascade of consequences is hugely entertaining and often unexpectedly funny." Another one of those allegedly hilarious consequences comes when she hides her powdered narcotics in an artificial-sweetener packet, and her boss, anxious to find an artificial sweetener, takes and ingests the drugs in her coffee.
Showtime clearly wants the audience to embrace Jackie and her drug-fogged moral sense. As one slightly less impressed TV critic put it, she is "the health-care equivalent of the whore with a heart of gold." Tom Shales of the Washington Post not only praised the show, but praised the morality of the main character, and how her "years of experience and her highly developed sensitivities are tools she uses to cut to the chase, cut through red tape and cut around middlemen and other gratuitous obstacles planted in her path." In other words, every law she breaks is justifiably broken.
None of these TV critics would want to end up in the hospital in real life and answer "yes" to the question "Would you like your nurse to be whacked out on Oxycontin?" In real life, we'd want this woman to go to rehab, and then to marriage counseling. But anything approaching the right moral course would completely ruin all the "black comedy" fun Showtime is having.
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