Showtime decides the fate of “United States of Tara” and “Nurse Jackie”


Showtime announced plans for United States of Tara and Nurse Jackie on Monday. We have good news and bad news — which is which depends on whether you love both shows or not.

United States of Tara will not be back for a fourth season.

Despite the always brilliant performance of Emmy and Golden Globe winner Toni Collette as Tara, the show has gotten so dark and complex that I’m not surprised people have given up on it. While I certainly would love to see more shows that are equally sharp and innovative, the bottom line for networks is ratings. And Tara doesn’t have them anymore. I think the show may be too smart for television.

We’ve come to care about every character in the show, but special kudos to Diablo Cody and the Tara writers for the wonderful gay teen character Marshall (Keir Gilchrist). Often the most grown up of the entire Gregson family, Moosh is complicated and imperfect, but his problems are less about sexual orientation than simply being a normal teenager. As Tara said last week, she has no problem with her son being gay, but isn’t sure she can deal with his film snobbery.

Episode nine of 12 airs this week and we have a lot of story left. Although I wish the creators had been able to end the show on their own terms, I think you’ll find that the rest of the season provides a very powerful send-off. And the finale, which airs June 20 in the U.S., serves the whole series quite nicely.

The other half of the Tara/Jackie hour, Nurse Jackie, has been renewed for a fourth season. Its ratings have fallen, too, but not as far as Tara‘s.

Opinions on this season’s Jackie have been mixed. I think the show is still extremely well written and has enough surprises to keep me interested. Others think that Jackie’s story is tired — that the writers are just repeating the same formula over and over.

Edie Falco‘s performance as Jackie certainly isn’t following a formula. The character has very few honest moments, since addiction rules her life, but Falco, who also has received a Golden Globe and Emmy for the role, manages to convey exactly what Jackie is thinking without saying a word.

Showrunners Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem are out lesbians and gave us a nice little Sapphic storyline last season between Eve Best‘s Eleanor O’Hara and her off-and-on GF, played by Julia Ormond. But this year’s Dr. O’Hara has seen no action at all — a disappointment. Perhaps another season will bring another hot woman into the life of the gorgeous doctor.

Jackie‘s other lesbians, Dr. Cooper’s two moms (Swoosie Kurtz and Judith Light), appeared only briefly to tell Coop they’re divorcing. I appreciate the fact that the situation is treated no differently than straight parents’ divorcing would be, but I’d sure like to see more of them. Maybe next year.

How do you feel about the cancellation of United States of Tara and the renewal of Nurse Jackie? What would you like to see happen before Tara says goodbye? Do you see any hope for Jackie to turn her life around?

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