Nurse Jackie

TV review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
Nurse Jackie TV Poster Image
Mature, complex hospital dramedy isn't meant for kids.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series features the complex double-life of a talented, compassionate nurse with an addiction problem.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jackie Peyton loves her family, takes her job seriously, and displays intelligence, compassion, and guts. She is also dishonest, addicted to prescription pills (often treating patients under the influence), and metes out her own brand of vigilante-style medical justice when she deems it necessary.


Given the hospital setting, there's a good amount of bleeding, vomiting, and other graphic injuries -- but not as much as on a show like ER. Examples include a patient losing his ear; another physically attacking a nurse, hitting her hard in the face; another coming in high with serious burns after inserting a Roman candle into his anus; and another needing more than 250 stitches to close her wounds after a violent attack.


The main character is married but is having an affair with a colleague -- and when they have sex, they do it at work. They're usually clothed, so no sensitive body parts are shown, but you'll see plenty of thrusting.


Frequent, unbleeped usage of "f--k" (and all its permutations), as well as "s--t," "c--t," "c--k," "tit," "Jesus Christ," and "bitch," among others. Characters also use colorful phrases like "suck my dick," "blow me," and "vagina mom" (a more creative way of saying "birth mother").


Expect mentions of brands like Barneys New York, Manolo Blahnik, and Bergdorf Goodman thanks to a materialistic doctor who loves to shop for expensive clothing. Drugs like Zyrtec, Percocet, Seconal, and Vicodin are also mentioned by name.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jackie has a serious dependency on prescription drugs and takes them at least three times a day in various, often desperately creative, ways. She's sleeping with the hospital pharmacist, who supplies her with many of her pills, but she goes to great lengths to keep her addiction a secret from her husband and colleagues. Other characters drink alcohol, and even some doctors -- including a pulmonary specialist -- are shown smoking cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the main character in this mature medical dramedy is a complex anti-heroine who grapples daily with her addicton to prescription painkillers and is having an affair with a colleague -- even though, on the surface, she's happily married with two young children. Conversations are riddled with strong language, including unbleeped words like "f--k," "c--t," and "s--t," and the emergency room setting produces plenty of blood and guts. Some brand names are mentioned, too, mostly in the form of specific prescription drugs and upscale merchants.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJenjen G. February 6, 2017

Best show yet

This is for adults and it's so good. I came acrossed it and decided to give it a try. Omg love it. I got my sister hooked on it. Wish they would make m... Continue reading
Parent of a 17-year-old Written bylogmaniac November 18, 2009
Teen, 16 years old Written byabsisthedream1998 November 23, 2016


This show is amazing. I love it so much. This show is inappropriate though. There is a lot of sex, thrusting. No nudity except for you may see one or two breast... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byRileykj3 September 7, 2016

Very inappropriate

This show is definitely not for younger kids. If I were a parent with a preteen or even a younger teen I would consider watching this before you let your kids w... Continue reading

What's the story?

Emergency room nurse Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco) struggles to manage her high-stress job -- and her addiction to prescription painkillers -- in NURSE JACKIE, a dramedy set in the shadows of New York City's fictitious All Saints Hospital. Her co-workers include a materialistic British physician (Eve Best), a brash young doctor (Peter Facinelli), a street-smart gay nurse (Haaz Sleiman), a socially awkward nursing student (Merritt Wever), and an attentive pharmacist (Paul Schulze) she's also sleeping with. But thanks to Jackie's habit of slipping off her wedding ring when she's at work, few of the other characters know that she's married with two children at home...

Is it any good?

On the surface, Nurse Jackie is just another hospital drama, albeit a good one -- kind of like ER with a lot more swearing. But at a deeper level, it's actually a show about pain management of all types, emotional as well as physical. Thanks to strong writing and a fully realized supporting cast, viewers learn more and more about Jackie and her demons as the series unfolds.

And whether you love her or hate her, you can't deny that she's one heck of a woman, a complex character who's both bad and good, wrong and right, sinner and saint.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Familes can talk about Jackie's iffy decisions when it comes to her personal and professional life. In what ways do you admire her? What about her behavior do you find less than admirable? Would you consider her a role model? When Jackie acts dishonestly to achieve what she sees as a beneficial outcome -- for example, forging a dead patient's signature to make him an organ donor -- do the ends justify the means? Do you view her behavior as ethical or unethical?

TV details

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