And time yet for a hundred indecisions

Despite my general distaste for almost every character in the show, I’m still in the business of watching season two of Nurse Jackie, Edie Falco’s newie (sorry, channeling Kath & Kim). It’s the usual Showtime (or HBO) fare with a lead character with some serious character defect or otherwise unusual/difficult situation – in this case a head nurse with a drug addiction and an affair on the go.

One thing that’s been striking to me during this second season is the inane amount of time all the characters seem to have to loll around being quirky instead of taking care of patients. Obviously this is something of a feature of the hospital drama genre, because otherwise you’d just have a pretend reality TV show about a trauma centre or whatever; but still, it seems out of hand.

There’s a particular tendency for Jackie and her doctor to spend a lot of time chatting and going out to lunch. It could be argued that the show merely shows us the oh-so-rare moments in the day when they aren’t working, but  that’s where, perhaps, the semiotics of TV (for me) mess things up. Generally, I tend to imagine that the “kinds of things” people do on screen in a TV drama are the same kinds of things they’re doing when we can’t see them. Further, the lunch scenes especially give this very strong connotation of some kind of endless brunch – maybe referencing (intentionally or not) the recurring brunch scene in Sex and the City.

Probably some of my judgment here comes from my smoldering dislike for Jackie in particular, but I still contend that the show has an odd attitude to time, perhaps born of its attempt to bridge the kind of “home drama” of shows like United States of Tara and a “workplace drama” like The Wire. Hard to do both well (though maybe The Sopranos did).

16 May 2010
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