Showtime renews ‘Nurse Jackie’ for season 5, hires ex-‘Dexter’ showrunner

Showtime has renewed “Nurse Jackie” for a fifth season, and has hired former “Dexter” showrunner Clyde Phillips to take over as the new boss.

“Jackie” co-creators Liz Brixius and Linda Wallem are departing after running the Emmy-winning dramedy since the first season, and Phillips is an interesting replacement choice with some clear pros and cons. On the plus side, he’s a seasoned veteran who has worked in both comedy (“Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” is my favorite of his work on that side of things) and in dramas, and should hopefully be able to balance the two sides of “Jackie.”

On the minus side, as good as many stretches of his “Dexter” run were, that show under his watch (and under the watch of his replacements) was terrified to change anything significant. Now he comes to “Jackie,” which for its first few seasons was another poster child for how Showtime series prefer to run in place rather than shake up the status quo. New Showtime president David Nevins apparently had a come to Jesus conversation with Wallem and Brixius before this season, and the show (which I’ve been watching, but not writing about on a weekly basis) has been vastly improved for forcing Edie Falco’s Jackie to deal with the consequences of her actions, and for altering the relationships between many of the main characters. (My favorite of those: the taciturn Jackie and Merritt Wever’s bubbly Zoey have become roommates.) 

Will Phillips be willing to let “Jackie” keep growing and changing, or will the show return to the lather/rinse/repeat approach of previous seasons? What “Jackie” became this season made me glad Showtime renewed it (even if “United States of Tara” went away in the bargain), but I’d hate for this season to turn out to be an aberration.