Review: Showtime's Nurse Jackie/United States Of Tara


■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Showtime’s dynamic female duo returns for
a second season of comedy-drama on Monday nights,
with their characters still trying to keep their family
lives from disintegrating.

First up, at 10 p.m., is Edie Falco in Nurse Jackie. Having
ended season one laid out on a bathroom floor in
a morphine-induced
trance, the acerbic R.N.
opens season two on a
blanket on the beach,
her marriage still intact
and her two kids
This is significant
as season one left
said marriage much in
doubt. In addition to
not knowing about her
addiction to pain killers,
Jackie Peyton’s husband,
Kevin (Dominic Fumusa), is unaware Jackie has had a
sexual relationship on the side with Eddie Walzer (Paul
Schulze), the pharmacist at the New York City hospital
where Jackie works. Eddie, though, found out Jackie is
married, despite her efforts to keep those worlds apart.
He has also befriended Kevin and is insinuating himself
into her family in a way that seems to risk bodily harm
at the hand of Jackie, the kind of woman who’ll shove a
teenager onto the ground without a word of warning for
using foul language around her kids.
Season two has many classic Jackie scenes while
giving her female at-work sidekicks, Dr. Eleanor O’Hara
(Eve Best) and novice nurse Zoey Barkow (Merritt
Weaver), room to grow. Tensions are rising at the Peyton
household and at work, but at All Saints Hospital, at
least, Jackie still knows best.
At 10:30, Toni Collette returns in United States of Tara
after winning an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her
first-season portrayal of
Tara Gregson, a mom
with dissociative identity
two begins with Tara
seemingly having overcome
her penchant for
yielding her body to alternate
personalities. A
neighborhood tragedy,
though, stirs up buried
memories of childhood
trauma and the “alters”
start to return. A new one appears, too, who’ll share
consciousness with Tara, another avenue of the disorder
for creator Diablo Cody (Juno) to explore.
Where Jackie is blunt and often ferocious, Tara is
silky and passive until her “alters” emerge. Partly in her
absence, husband Max (John Corbett) gets immersed
in a neighborhood investment (ignoring Tara’s reluctance)
until it’s revealed that Tara’s alters are getting
her in trouble and he begins to get exasperated. Her
young teen son, Marshall (Keir Gilchrist), is exploring his
sexuality and older teen daughter, Kate (Brie Larson),
adopts an online fantasy persona, guided by exotic artist
Lynda P. Frazier (guest star Viola Davis).
These two dynamic lead actresses and their characters’
complicated lives are completely compelling

Showtime premieres the sophomore seasons of Nurse Jackie and United States Of Tara on March 22 at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., respectively.