As some have mentioned, her character seems House-esque: A misanthrope in a place of healing. But what makes Nurse Jackie different is, clearly, that she's a woman. She's not only a nurse but female, and that means sometimes she's ignored. Sometimes a doctor feels like it's okay to hug her. Sometimes people try to take advantage of her. She's built up a steely exterior — and a pill habit — in order to survive, but she seems to suppress aspects of herself often thought of as being "feminine," — she shows little emotion, and refuses to be chatty or polite. Of course, she's also a mother and wife having an extra-marital affair at work, so things get complicated. And don't forget the pill problem! Falco plays the role by barely using her facial muscles, suppressing everything and leaving you wondering when (if) Jackie will snap. But the audience is allowed to see that beneath it all, Jackie's heart is in the right place — when faced with the task of reattaching the ear of a man who has assaulted a woman (and will not do time due to diplomatic immunity), she "loses" the ear by flushing it down the toilet. Heroic! Of course, she later blames this wrongdoing on the nursing student shadowing her. Last night, the speech Jackie gave the student ("Buck up!") was indicative of how her character functions. Clip above.
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