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What a carry on, nurse


Nurse Jackie is another US drama cracking the candy-coated edges of the American dream in order to gnaw at the morally ambivalent centre within. Each episode centres on working-class heroine Nurse Jackie (Edie Falco), who has been having an affair with a mentally fragile pharmacist and is addicted to prescription painkillers.

It sounds like the plot of a Lars Von Trier film, but it's played for laughs or, at least, wry smiles. Jackie is a classic "flawed heroine". This means we cheer her on as she wanders the halls of All Saints Hospital saving lost souls (in last night's episodes, she helps an illegal immigrant escape from the police, and has a neglectful carer arrested), but we also get to judge her because we aren't ourselves off our heads on Percocet or having sex with a baldy chemist. Well, not as I type.

Anyway, as series two progresses, the net is closing in on Jackie. The hospital has assigned a security guard to watch over their dwindling medicine stash, and her suicidal lover has befriended her husband to be closer to her. This psychotic behaviour seemingly reignites Jackie's love and they restart their affair.

Elsewhere, Zoey, the quirky young nurse, thinks she's pregnant. Fitch, the smug rich doctor, is chosen to be the face of the hospital's promotional campaign. And Jackie's best friend O'Hara tries to forget her sexcapade with sex-addict nurse Sam, before being reunited with her war-reporter girlfriend.

The second episode ends with Jackie, mystified by her confusing life, putting plaster of Paris on her younger daughter's arm to humour her. "Nothing's really broken," her daughter says, which is the type of line that writers intend to work on more than one level, but which, as far as I can see, only works on one.

Basically Nurse Jackie is an entertaining dramedy which shouldn't be taken too seriously. All Saints Hospital, on the other hand, is a terrible facility filled with drug-addicted sex- maniacs and I hope I never end up there.

I also hope I never end up in Albert Square. With their furrowed brows and wheezing guttural voices, its residents remind me of the survivors in 1980s nuclear-holocaust movie Threads. In EastEnders, much like post-apocalyptic Britain, everyone is horrible to one another by reflex.

You see, in a world where few people know their neighbours, the Eastenders do know their neighbours and know them to be nasty, twisted bastards who will scam, cheat and beat each other up at the smallest provocation. Two interactions this week begin with the words "What are you lookin' at?" grunted aggressively for no reason, and a third starts with Janine sneering "Take a picture, it lasts longer".


The Eastenders even invent their own crimes. This episode featured Michael, who's obsessed with Ronnie, engaging in some offensive non-consensual perfuming: he aggressively sprays his girlfriend, Roxy, with Ronnie's perfume. That's a new form of horribleness I would never have thought of. And if that's not enough, there was also some frenzied, sweaty love- making starring Max and Tanya, which I assume is a crime. I'm certainly ready to make a victim-impact statement about it.

Kat was preparing her own victim impact statement about how she felt when Ronnie replaced her live baby with a dead one (one of the nastiest plot-lines ever), while Ronnie stoically faced the possibility of prison and Roxy had a cry.

The only chink of light was when Ian Beale pushed a dead fish into the face of a sleeping Janine and pretended it was talking. For a brief moment I thought: "I'd like to see more of that fish!" and imagined a spin-off programme featuring it (voiced by Beale) and the famously spud-like Phil Mitchell solving crimes together under the aliases Fish and Chips. It was not to be.

Nurse Jackie HHHII

Eastenders HHIII