The lack of transparency in Jackie’s character advances the
idea that Nurse Jackie is not a conventional sitcom. Although the
show focuses the narrative on a female protagonist, and viewers
have certain gendered expectations about what such stories should
look like, Jackie is not always a likeable character. After all, she
creates her own moral code constructed to maximize professional
and personal gain. She prioritizes her addiction over her family and
her job. Jackie draws distinct lines separating each sphere of her
life, and her self-destructive tendencies are far more likely to leave
viewers far crying instead of laughing. This unconventional sitcom
still draws on certain conventions of the sitcom genre, however.
Nurse Jackie is a half-hour, single camera narrative although it fits
more as a “dramedy” in tone (Subramanian 212). The 30-minute
show features aspects of dark comedy and provides a dramatic
narrative of a female protagonist limited by a very real drug
addiction. Overall, the series offers an original interpretation of the
sitcom genre. While conforming to the structure and aesthetics of
a traditional sitcom, the context of the show diverges from the
conventions of the typical sitcom. As Jackie eschews the typical
sitcom morality of a female protagonist in middle adulthood
(Subramanian 219), viewers are often left with the question of
whether or not to root for Jackie. Viewer response to Jackie is
mediated by one particular character throughout the series. As
Zoey Barkow weaves in and out of Jackie’s personal and
professional lives, she offers a measure of how viewers are likely
to feel about Jackie over the course of the series. When Zoey first
meets Jackie, she idolizes her. She follows Jackie throughout work
taking notes on her nursing techniques. She respects Jackie as a
nurse and then later as a mom. Zoey runs interference for Jackie
with her kids and, at one point, even becomes Jackie’s roommate.
Furthermore, she covers for Jackie and makes excuses for her. It
is a fair assessment to argue that Zoey becomes Jackie’s biggest
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