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Edie Falco Talks 'Nurse Jackie' and Sobriety

As the sixth season of the show is underway, star Edie Falco talks about her pill-popping character's relapse as well as her own 20 years of sobriety.


Photo via Showtime

By David Konow


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Last season, when Edie Falco's Nurse Jackie relapsed on the first anniversary of her sobriety, it broke the hearts of many fans of the show. In the wrong hands, a turn like this could be the worst kind of melodrama. But by the same token, if things stayed fine for the character, it could have been deemed a big cop out.

As Falco recently told The Daily Beast, “Very rarely do people get sober and then it’s clear sailing from that point on. I think the rule, rather than the anomaly, is that people tend to struggle.”

Falco, who has been sober from alcohol for over twenty years herself, was also hurt about her character’s relapse. “I don’t know if it was a dramatic decision, or if just was an effort to keep things realistic. I kind of stay away from storyline stuff," she said. "But as far as when we’re dealing with addiction stuff, it’s very important to me to be depicted as realistically as possible."

Showrunner Clyde Phillips confirmed that the decision to take such a bold dramatic step was a desire to keep it real. “There needs to consequences; you can’t just do it as a one-time thing and say to the audience, ‘Hey, come back and watch year six and she’s on the wagon again'", he said. "I don’t think that’s fair to the dynamic of authentic story telling. Her struggles will be even deeper [this year].”

The show has already been renewed for its seventh season, with Falco promising that “[i]t's only going to get more complicated.” But considering the character’s relapse, that’s a given, especially considering she’s dealing with her daughter’s struggles with addiction as well.

"Many kids see this in their families growing up and one thing they promise is that they’ll never be like that," Falco said. "And lo and behold, so many of them end up being just like that. Because it’s what they see and what they know. It’s a really complicated issue, but it’s not unusual that it picks up exactly where the parent left off, or still is.”

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