The Pusher and The User: WEEDS and NURSE JACKIE Premiere on Showtime Tonight

It’s Ladies’ Night on Showtime, with the return of Weeds and the premiere of Nurse Jackie. Weeds is sharp, brutally funny, and well-acted, and…we have a hard time watching it. Mary-Louise Parker is terrific in her role as widow-turned-marijuana dealer Nancy Botwin, but Nancy’s choices put her children in such horrific, dangerous situations that we have a hard time not wanting to call Social Services on a television character. Still, the lecture Nancy’s brother (the terrific Justin Kirk) once gave Nancy’s youngest son on…growing up…with a banana peel…is still one of the funniest things that television has produced recently, so if you can stomach the bad parenting, tune in.

Nurse Jackie, on the other hand, finds Edie Falco snorting Oxycontin to keep herself sharp enough to keep her patients out of danger. This pilot is by turns acerbic, heartbreaking, snide, touching, and clever, and it opens by quoting TS Eliot, so I fell a little in love a little too quickly. Falco is so good (and this is coming from someone who could not handle The Sopranos and therefore never really understood the acclaim for its leads) I almost want to hand her the Oxy myself. She’s joined by a solid supporting cast that includes Peter Facinelli (Damages, Six Feet Under, Fastlane), Anna Deavere Smith (The West Wing, The Practice), and Merritt Wever (Matt and Danny’s PA on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). I’m terrified thinking that Nancy Botwin’s kids are going to end up in the emergency room, to the point where I’m not sure I can watch her show, but I’d feel a lot better knowing they were going to end up under Nurse Jackie’s tough, tender care.

Weeds season premiere tonight at 10pm Eastern and Pacific, followed immediately by the series premiere of Nurse Jackie, both on Showtime.