I've recently been catching up on episodes of Nurse Jackie that have been sitting dormant for a long time on my TiVo. The show is usually a little bleak for my taste, and I don't feel much compulsion to keep up with it from week to week. (I like high drama, melancholic, and sad, but bleak bums me out. That's why I stopped watching The Big C and The United States of Tara. I digress.) That said, the acting is good and the characters are at least interesting. Jackie (Edie Falco) is the classic anti-hero: you genuinely want her to lose her job, but you still feel invested in her well-being.
In last week's episode, "F*** the Lemers", they dove a little more deeply into Jackie's daughter Grace's (Ruby Jerins, kid actor extraordinaire [sidebar: she was one of the Laeddis kids in Shutter Island! Creepy.]) psychological issues, specifically the nature of the anxiety she experiences. One of the most heartbreaking moments of the season (maybe the series) is the scene in this episode where Grace explains to her parents why she thinks she needs medication, and then later when she tries to tell Jackie how she feels medication helping her:
GRACE: "It’s like I’m on the edge of having ten ideas, all at once, only maybe I don’t have to have them. Like I could say “freeze” and walk right up to them and see if I want to let them in or not. I don’t think they’re ever going to go away, but if I don’t want to think them, I don’t have to.
JACKIE: "No, you don’t.
GRACE: "My heart is moving a little slower. I can tell. But it’s okay, it’s just for now."
This piece of dialogue is so beautifully scripted that only Jerins' absolutely note-perfect delivery does it justice. In fact, after this episode, it's amazing Jerins' name hasn't come up on Emmy wish-lists for guest star performances.
This whole storyline has, from the beginning, been one of the most compelling of the series. Grace's psychological imbalance wasn't caused by her parents' marital issues or her mother's addiction, but it was probably escalated by those things. It's not often we get to see on TV the drawn-out causal effects of parental misbehavior on their children. I like how this has played out, thus far.