NURSE JACKIE Showrunner on Why Jackie Betrayed Herself

Hey, it isn’t a spoiler if the episode has already aired, is it? We mean, c’mon.

Besides which, we don’t agree with the whole, “OMG, don’t you dare tell me what happens I want to be surprised” thing. Especially when you’re a writer who should be learning how to write effectively and movingly, not merely, um, surprisingly. Plot twists and turns are not what good writing is about, gang. Genuine insight into the human condition should be what we’re striving to give our viewers.

So here’s NURSE JACKIE’s Clyde Phillips on why Jackie had to take one for the team:

nurse-jackie-gets-a-prizeby Lesley Goldberg

After nearly two seasons of sobriety, Jackie Peyton reached a new milestone during the fifth-season finale of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie.

Preparing to accept her one-year cake celebrating a full year of sobriety in front of friends and family,Edie Falco‘s titular character did the unthinkable, popping a pill she’d stashed with her wedding ring before heading out the door.

“We’re doing a show about an ER nurse who is a drug addict and I don’t know that the audience wants to see a sober drug addict for another couple years,” first-year Nurse Jackie showrunner Clyde Phillips tells The Hollywood Reporter of the decision to have Jackie fall off the wagon.

As Jackie went through the 12-step program, finding happiness with new love interest Frank (Adam Ferrara), civility with Kevin (Dominic Fumusa) and making a big decision about the custody of her daughters, Phillips says the flawed character came to realize there was one thing she was ill-equipped to handle.

“She was so used to darkness and pain that what bubbled to the surface was joy, and she didn’t know how to handle it,” the former Dexter showrunner says. “So she went immediately to the crutch that she’d always gone to before when she was confused.”

The decision to have Jackie relapse was part of what landed him the job at the helm of the series, replacing co-creators Linda Wallem and Liz Brixius.

“We had to get Showtime to sign off on it,” he says. “We knew two things going in: that Jackie was going to be surprised by feeling inadequate in the face of joy and that she was going to use because of that.”

The decision, he says, was an easy one to make with the writers room coming up with the idea of Jackie accepting her one-year cake and saying, “Hello, my name is Jackie Peyton, and I’ve been sober for one year” after she’d already used. It sets up a storyline for the recently announced sixth season to take Jackie down a darker path.

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Down a darker path?! Oh, yeah. Sure. Because all lives need to go down darker paths, right? And we need to see it?