“Nurse Jackie” going into a “new gear of gay” in second season


In our brief follow-up interview with Nurse Jackie co-creator Linda Wallem, we learn that the second season of Showtime’s critically acclaimed series is going into a “new gear of gay” when it premieres in March, complete with a big gay love triangle and a musical contribution from out rocker Melissa Etheridge.

The cast of Nurse Jackie

AfterEllen.com: The Advocate reported this week that with the departure of Haaz Sleiman, who plays gay nurse “Mo Mo,” Nurse Jackie is going to be “less gay” in the second season. Care to respond?

Linda Wallem: Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s an assumption on their part based on the fact that the actor is not coming back. We’re a hospital, we have a ton of gay nurses!

This season, we’re going to have a really great gay love triangle … a three-part arc that is going to be great. I mean it when I say we are going into a new gear of gay this year. So that’s my official response.

AE: What about Haaz Sleiman’s departure from the show?

The storyline with that gay nurse played itself out. But the part of Thor [played by Wallem’s brother, Stephen Wallem], the other gay nurse, is even more visible this year.

As far as Jackie’s friendships go, as far as gay characters go … if anything, we’ve taken it up a notch. I don’t want to give away any secrets, but with one of our main characters there’s going to be a romance happening with an old flame, and it’s definitely a gay romance. So there you go!

AE: So you don’t want to say specifically whether it’s a gay or lesbian romance?

LW: Right, because I don’t want to give it away. I think everyone will be very happy with what we did, and we’ll have a special guest star that will come on.

Also, we’ll have Harvey Fierstein as a guest star, and I’m really proud of his story. It’s a very simple story of a man whose husband is dying. People are used to Harvey being so huge and flamboyant, but he’s very stripped down and lovely. It’s a beautiful performance of a man whose husband is dying (from old age) and what that feels like for him.

At one point, there’s a line where he says, “Can I just not be gay for a minute?” Because everyone is coming up to him and trying to relate, and he just wants to be the guy whose husband is dying. We love to take these stories and have the characters just be treated equally and normally.

AE: When will that episode air?

It’s one of the later episodes. If we premiere March 22, then that episode will probably premiere in May sometime. Harvey will break your heart, he’s so wonderful.

AE: Can you tell me more about what will happen with the character of Thor?

You’re really going to get to know more about Thor this year. He isn’t just a big, gay nurse! We’ll learn that he’s a diabetic, and diabetics have never really been portrayed in a truthful way. I’m very proud of him and what he stepped into, he’s terrific.

AE: Any other guest stars you can tell us about?

We have off-the-wall guest stars, which I love. People like Barbara Barrie, and Marion Ross. I love her, and I killed her off on That 70’s Show ten years ago and I promised her I’d bring her back to life one of these days, and I finally got to! (laughs) Julia Ormond guest stars, and she’s wonderful.

AE: Are we going to see Coop’s lesbian moms again in the next season?

We’re going to hear a lot about the moms, but we had scheduling difficulties this year with them. So they’ll definitely be back, but we couldn’t work it out this year. But we love them.

AE: So there will definitely be other lesbian characters on the show in the new season?

Yeah! (laughs) Everyone will be very happy with what we’ve done.

AE: How is production going?

We finished shooting on Friday, and we’ll be doing post-production in January and February. Hopefully, if we get picked up again for a third season, we’ll start up again in August. We’re just thrilled that Showtime wanted to put us on again so fast and that the response has been so good.

And we’re going to be using a Melissa Etheridge song, from her new album, for the finale. The new album is so f—-ing great, it’s unbelievable.

AE: Is it a solo or a duet?

It’s just her, a hard-rocking song that is a beautiful way to end the season with where Jackie’s at. The combo of Melissa’s music with Edie is just explosive.

AE: How are things going with your collaboration with Melissa on the musical you mentioned the last time we spoke?

We’re working on it, I’m flying out to LA this week to work with her. She is so ready to have this musical complete, we both are, we know this is meant to be.

We’re hoping to workshop something by this spring or summer. She’s touring, so we’re trying to figure this all out. She has such a busy rockstar life (laughs) but between the two of us … they say if you want to get something done, get a busy person to do it. So we’re going to do this!

It’s exciting because we’re both such musical theatre geeks, so it’s a dream come true!

AE: Thanks for the udpate, Linda!

Very interesting. I have my own suspicions about which of the characters may be involved in the lesbian (or gay) love triangle, but who do you think it will be?

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