Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara return for their sophomore seasons on Monday night, March 22. While I did not find that either show needed to improve upon their very impressive debut seasons, I am pleasantly surprised by the slight changes and shifts that both series' have implemented.
In the first few episodes of Season 2, there are a few revelations on Nurse Jackie involving Jackie's relationships with both her pharmacist boy toy Eddie (Paul Schulze) and her BFF, Dr. O'Hara (delicious & devilish scene-stealer Eve Best).
Edie Falco is delivering an Emmy-worthy performance; her ability to transform and transition Jackie from infuriatingly immoral in one scene to commendably compassionate in the next is unparalleled. I enjoy her scenes with Akalitus (the great Anna Deavere Smith) more than any other character, especially in Season 2 thus far.
I have also grown rather fond of the fabulous Merritt Wever as Jackie's fumbling, earnest sidekick Zoey, who amuses me to no end with her facial expressions and body language. Wever has a talent for subtle physical comedy, and this role appears to have been tailor-made for her.
Twilight fans simply seeking a weekly Cullen fix will be pleased to discover an entirely different side of Peter Facinelli. Unlike the strong women who surround and overwhelm him at the hospital, Dr. Cooper is a vulnerable and sensitive soul who cares what people think about him. His ideals will be tested early on in Season 2, and his inappropriate quirks come into play during a fantastic guest appearance by Barbara Barrie.
UNITED STATES OF TARA
On more than a few occasions just a few episodes into Season 2 of United States of Tara, my eyebrows were raised and my jaw was ajar. Toni Collette, who won the Emmy last year for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series, remains on par with Edie Falco in that category. Her range is extraordinary, and that has never been more clear than right now; Tara delves deep into less familiar and uncomfortable territory this season, and Collette handles it beautifully and with ease.
The dynamic and dysfunction of the Gregson family is equally compelling and entertaining, and their interaction is one of my favorite aspects of the show. Disconcerting changes are in store for Tara, which obviously affects everyone in her life. I, for one, am looking forward to just how far her husband Max (John Corbett) will be pushed to and perhaps over the edge this season by her actions and personalities.
United States of Tara features a particularly strong supporting cast, including two of the most well-written teenagers on television. Siblings Marshall (Keir Gilchrist) and Kate (Brie Larson) face their own set of realistic challenges in Season 2, as does Tara's self-centered sister Charmaine (Rosemarie DeWitt).
Even if you have not watched the first seasons of either show, I highly recommend that you tune in tomorrow night and set your DVRs with season passes for both Nurse Jackie and United States of Tara. These are two examples of original programming at their best, with stellar scripts, casts and surprises that will keep you laughing and intrigued from week to week.