Edie Falco portrayed long suffering Carmella Soprano on the HBO hit The Sopranos. In Showtime’s dark comedy, Nurse Jackie, Falco portrays a very different character, Jackie Peyton.
Nurse Jackie is in its third season on Showtime. Edie Falco received an Emmy Award , in 2010, for her role as the duplicitous, drug addicted nurse Jackie Peyton. It is a very different role from Falco’s Carmella Soprano, the long-suffering wife of mob boss Tony Soprano, portrayed by James Gandolfini. Falco won three Emmy Awards for her role as the wife of a mob boss.
Carmela Soprano was married to serial cheater Tony Soprano, the mob boss with a serious wandering eye and lack of morals. Carmela hated being married to a crime-boss adulterer, but not as much as she hated being without money, so she tolerated his wandering ways.
In many ways, Nurse Jackie Peyton is the opposite of Carmela Soprano. Nurse Jackie is a caring nurse, but she juggles her relationships with her bar-owning husband (Dominic Fumusa) and hospital pharmacist Eddie (Paul Schulze). She even kept her marriage a secret from her co-workers, until her husband visited the hospital in the season three premiere. Jackie’s co-workers were shocked to learn that Nurse Jackie was married.
Lying is one of the hallmarks of addicts, and Jackie Peyton is an addict. She constantly weaves webs of deceit, but things never seem to turn out as planned. One of the driving story lines of the show pertains to Jackie’s need to feed her drug habit. Eddie was a major supplier of the pain killing prescriptions, until he was replaced by a pill counting machine. Jackie was forced to find more creative means of finding drugs. Now Eddie is back, but he now knows she is married, so the relationship dynamic has changed.
In the season two finale, Jackie’s husband and best friend, Dr. O’Hara (Eve Best) staged an intervention. It almost seemed as if Jackie was cornered, but somehow she managed to elude the confrontation by the people who cared about her the most.
Jackie, like many real-life addicts, manages to function, but not as well as she believes she does. In real life, an addict would continue a downward spiral until they hit a bottom. Hopefully, Showtime will have Jackie either hit bottom, or fix the problem so that viewers do not get the impression that her behavior is healthy.
Edie Falco has admitted to past alcohol abuse problems, but has said that she has been clean for 20 years. While her personal experiences are long ago, the previous abuse probably gives the actress a level of understanding.
Carmela Soprano and Jackie Peyton are both complex characters with good and bad qualities. Carmela Soprano put up with an unhappy marriage because she found it too hard to leave the mob boss. Jackie Peyton is a lying, scheming drug addict hanging on to a responsible job.
As unlikeable as these two characters can be, Edie Falco imbues the characters with a likability that makes viewers sympathetic. Carmella, with her expressive face, held her own with her cheating husband, retaliating by going on shopping sprees and daring him to say anything. Jackie is a flawed t woman, with a family that depends on her, while she makes her way in a tough world.
Like Edie Falco, Steve Buscemi is a former cast member of The Sopranos who has been acclaimed as a lead in a series. Buscemi stars in the Prohitibition Era series Boardwalk Empire, which airs on HBO.