The Dramatic, Dysfunctional Moms of Showtime.

by Meredith O’Brien


Back in March, the Wall Street Journal ran a feature story saying that Showtime had been busy fashioning itself into a showcase for mothers who’ve become unhinged in one way or another. And since that article was published, the moms of Showtime have more than proven the Journal right by pushing the envelope, picking up where the first season of the suburban satire Desperate Housewives (when it was good) left off.


Weeds, which is now in its sixth season, is credited with starting the mini-trend of “flawed” female lead characters on cable, showcasing the Golden Globe-winning Mary-Louise Parker as a suburban mom who was suddenly widowed and left with two kids to raise and who turned to pot dealing in order to maintain her affluent lifestyle.


Since premiering, Parker’s Nancy Botwin accidentally got her suburban neighborhood burned down (some gangsters who were protecting Nancy from other gangsters set it on fire). As her house burned, she grabbed her kids and fled, started dealing pot again and commenced working with Mexican drug dealers. She bedded a crooked, drug dealing politician, got pregnant with his baby and married him. The new season, which began last month, featured Nancy once again on the run with her sons and former brother-in-law, this time changing their names and heading to Seattle, trying to keep away from the FBI and from her husband after her middle son used a croquet mallet to kill a woman who’d threatened the Botwin family’s safety.


In addition to Nancy Botwin’s never-ending campaign for mother of the year, there’s Nurse Jackie’s Jackie Peyton (Edie Falco), a nurse and mom of two elementary schoolers who’s not only addicted to pain killers but has been cheating on her adorable, bar-owning husband. In the show’s season finale in June, Jackie’s husband and best friend confronted her about the drugs, an allegation that she flatly, smugly denied to their faces. (Falco won an Emmy for her role.)