The spring season for paid cable kicks off with two shows returning just in time for the pre-finals lull. The humor-ridden, stressful lives of two of TV’s busiest ladies serve students as reminders that life only gets harder, never easier.
First at 8 p.m. Sundays is “Nurse Jackie” on Showtime. Staring “The Sopranos” star Edie Falco as Jackie Peyton, the show follows a drug-addicted NYC trauma nurse. After several seasons of popping pills, Jackie must refocus her priorities on her family life. When Jackie admitted to sleeping with the hospital pharmacist for pills toward the beginning of the show, her husband cut every tie with her he could and is still fighting to gain custody of their children, who are not faring well with the split.
Kicking off Season Five, Jackie has been clean for nearly 10 months since her experience in rehab in Season Four. By-the-book, corporate Dr. Michael Cruz (Bobby Cannavale, “Movie 43”) departs after the death of his son, Jackie’s rehab buddy. The entire E.R. nursing staff is glad to see him leave, but Jackie learns of another departure from the staff that threatens her sobriety.
Meanwhile, pharmacist Eddie is trying to rekindle what he thinks existed between Jackie and him while she was using him for drugs, but he seems to be stuck in the friend zone. Still, Jackie may be finding unexpected love in the most unlikely of places.
“Nurse Jackie” consistently dances on the thin line between becoming too boring with Jackie assaulted by opportunities to relapse and keeping viewers interested in her addiction. It’s sometimes hard to watch her go through instance after instance of literally being handed pills only to see her throw them away or choose alternative paths to relief. While the show may be sticking to Jackie’s newly-turned leaf, it’s getting old.
Still, the show’s edgy, dark humor continues at a suitable level, and this season is looking to jump-start “Nurse Jackie” from a substantial lack of action on Jackie’s end. Competing with “Game of Thrones” in the same timeslot doesn’t help “Nurse Jackie’s” odds for ratings, but it’s very much worth watching.
Speaking of “Game of Thrones,” stick around on HBO Sunday evenings after the gritty fantasy for “Veep” at 9 p.m. For those who can’t stand the serious nature of “The West Wing,” or any political drama on TV for that matter, the hectic life of Vice President Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Seinfeld”) portrayed in “Veep” offers a hilarious new take on life in Washington, D.C. for all audiences.
Following the antics of Vice President Meyer is like seeing everything come crashing down around Michael in “Arrested Development”: once hope boils up from the depths of Washington’s politics, something always comes around to bash it away. Speaking of “Arrested Development,” Tony Hale serves as Meyer’s personal assistant and adds just a dash of Buster’s crazy personality to “Veep.”
In “Veep,” the vice presidency is the most passive-aggressive power position in Washington. While VP Meyer may be able to take over the nation if the president dies, she can’t seem to push through any legislation, work with any congressmen or get her staff issues sorted out in a fashionable manner. Yet she’s worked to the bone and can barely stay awake when the Senate is in session. All the while Meyer sacrifices her romantic interests, as well as her relationship with her daughter, for her job.
“Veep” paints a dark, dismal portrait of American politics being hyper-competitive to the point of insanity. Louis-Dreyfus looks run into the ground after each episode and is often left a frustrated mess at her desk while more business awaits her character off-screen.
This season opens with the midterm elections destroying Meyer’s party. Meyer is trying to assert herself with the president after being trampled on last season time and again. Meyer riles up crowd on the campaign for her party and the president for the midterms, but, despite being well-received, she’s still seen as the useless veep. Seasoned TV veteran Gary Cole (“The Good Wife”) joins the show as a presidential number cruncher and one of Meyer’s least favorite people. Having helped win the president his election by positioning Meyer with her blatantly cheating then-husband, Meyer sees Cole’s character as an obstacle piled onto her already very full plate.
“Veep” is crass, full of one-liners and often more offensive than anything on Adult Swim. Steeped with character chemistry and packed into half an hour, “Veep” will keep your sides thoroughly sore before the start of another tedious week.