JUNKIE: Award-winning actress Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in the medical comedy drama, Nurse Jackie.
JUNKIE: Award-winning actress Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton in the medical comedy drama, Nurse Jackie.
Hugh Laurie
Hugh Laurie

TV has become even more populated with antiheroes. And Edie Falco has certainly earned her stripes among them as Nurse Jackie, writes Debashine Thangevelo

THE goody-two-shoes who used to monopolise TV are not as rampant as they used to be – Hollywood has found its new currency with blemished characters as its protagonists. And they are masterfully exploiting them.

It’s a decision that can’t be faulted either. There’s something devilishly intriguing about having a central character attempting to balance that double-edged sword of morality.

Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) exemplifies this superbly. She bears all the depraved trademarks of an addict, which has impacted greatly on her family life and job at Manhattan’s All-Saints Hospital.

Remorse isn’t a feeling that seems to take up much residency in her life either. And, suffice to say, her adverse reaction to authority and rules often lands her in hot water.

For all intents and purposes, she is a contemptible person. Somehow, thanks to the genius of the writing team, viewers seem to embrace Jackie’s flaws and keep rooting for her to find her way out of whatever Catch-22 situation she lands herself in.

FALCO’S ROAD TO FAME

She went from struggling actress to award-winning star with The Sopranos. In fact, she was the only actress – aside from Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), America Ferrera (Ugly Betty) and Tina Fey (30 Rock) – to bag a Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors’ Guild award in the same year. Such achievements in the Mecca of Tinseltown have its merits. And she found herself bagging several big screen projects and more accolades along the way.

What’s most impressive is how, with Nurse Jackie, she managed to escape the shadow of Carmela Soprano.

Not just that, Falco embraced her role as an addict – not always agreeing or understanding her character – and played Nurse Jackie with such unadulterated honesty that viewers ended up unapologetically devoted to her.

Speaking recently about the seventh and final instalment of Nurse Jackie, she revealed: “She is a hard person to love. But that was important to me too because she is, on some levels, a very easy person to love. To continue to portray a person beyond the point where they are liked, it’s complicated. You know, I look at Carmela and I laugh my head off – she was mostly a pretty likeable lady. People understood, more or less, what she was going through. This one is complicated. She infuriates a lot of people, myself included.”

Despite bagging several awards and nominations for this role, she admitted: “Well, the whole competition thing, I still struggle with. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, but I understand it’s a necessity to this business, you know. It’s crazy. But there is also a part in me that doesn’t like to talk about it; because I feel so lucky. I mean, there were years – a long time ago, but it’s still seminal for me – when I thought I just had to get an acting job. Look where I am right now. It’s f**king crazy! Nowhere in the world did I think this kind of stuff would be happening to me.”

On this crazy journey ending with the seventh season, Falco shared: “You can’t help but grow attached to these characters. More importantly, you become attached to the very real-life day-to-day work stuff: the people; from the camera guys to the craft service lady to the hair and make-up people.

“I have been through this before with The Sopranos, where you feel like the world has sort of collapsed underneath you. But the scary thing is that you do work through it and then find another job or you go back into your real life like my children and my home. The other things I love to do. It’s just a crazy line of work.”

By the way, the sixth instalment starts with another downward spiral for our pill popper.

l Nurse Jackie season six airs on M-Net Edge (DStv channel 102) on Fridays at 9pm.

OTHER NOTABLE TV ANTIHEROES

l Dr Gregory House (Hugh Laurie, House) is not someone who makes friends easily. A genius at diagnosing the most unusual of cases, his methods are anarchic, to say the least. And he displays the social etiquette of a delinquent rather than a doctor; rude, unmanageable, dismissive and rebellious.

l Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader, The Blacklist) is one smooth criminal. While helping the FBI – having topped their most wanted list – incarcerated some of the most nefarious names in the underworld, he is, unbeknown to them, cleaning up shop, too. His motives may be selfish, but his acts are heroic.

l Detective Lieutenant Everett Backstrom (Rainn Wilson, Backstrom) is everything you wouldn’t expect. A chain-smoking alcoholic with health issues (surprise, surprise), pleasantries aren’t his thing. Neither is his tolerance for lies or rules. And he lives with his half-brother, who has a proclivity for dabbling in illegal merchandise.

l Hank Moody (David Duchovny, Californication) is about as depraved as they come. Heck, he even topples the godfather of debauchery – Charlie Sheen. His sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle defeated his attempts to write again, mend his fractured relationships with his kids, wife, girlfriend…well, you get the picture of his dysfunctional life!

l Charlie Goodson (Charlie Sheen, Anger Management) is a riot, more so in this comedy, which hints at him giving Chuck Lorre the finger. A former minor league baseball player, his anger issues led to him becoming a therapist. But he is defiant in all he does. But that’s Charlie for you.