The series takes place in the affluent Los Angeles, California suburb of Agrestic. It is home to Nancy Botwin, whose husband Judah suddenly died of a heart attack while jogging with his son Shane, prior to the start of the first season. Nancy's children Silas and Shane both attend Agrestic's public school system.
Nancy begins dealing marijuana to her affluent neighbors and friends to support her upper middle class lifestyle. She buys from Heylia James, a major distributor in Los Angeles' West Adams district whom she met through Heylia's nephew, Conrad. When her customers talk their way into a medical marijuana store with a variety of high-quality pot, Nancy's sales start to dry up, so she utilizes her baking skills and concocts pot-laced brownies and baked goods to sell off the low-quality product. Later, at the suggestion of her accountant, city councilman Doug Wilson, and with the aid of her attorney, her friend Celia Hodes' husband Dean, she opens a bakery as a front for her drug sales, buying the baked goods at Costco and putting them on her bakery's shelves as her own product. Silas begins dating Megan Beals, an attractive deaf girl at his school. Shane, a witness to his father's death, is a more troubled child who has been known to act out. As a result, Shane has been given the nickname "Strange Botwin" at his school. In one instance, Shane bites the foot of another child in a martial arts tournament.
Nancy has befriended the manic, image-obsessed, manipulative and controlling Celia Hodes, president of the Agrestic PTA, who has a number of domestic problems. She does not get along with her cheating husband Dean; nor does she get along with her sexually active 15-year-old daughter, Quinn (Silas' previous girlfriend), whom she sends off to boarding school in Mexico in the pilot. Her younger daughter, 11-year-old Isabelle, is overweight, and also decides late in the season that she is a lesbian (apparently to avoid dieting and the related scolding about her weight), and Celia berates her about both issues. Toward the end of the season, Celia is diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer, and before her surgery, she picks up Conrad and has sex with him. Conrad is long-time friends with Andy Botwin, the younger brother of Nancy's late husband and the black sheep of the family. Andy says he has moved into the Botwin household to help Nancy out, but actually seems to be there to free-load, and to disrupt Nancy's life. When he is notified to report immediately for his previously-agreed-upon military service (where he will be trained and then sent to Iraq), or be sentenced to a military prison, he announces that he is studying to become a rabbi as a dodge to avoid his military obligation.
Nancy expands her distribution to Valley State College, and is then harassed by a rival drug dealer, with whom she then has a brief and uncharacteristic sexual encounter. At Valley College, her entire stash of product is stolen by a campus security cop during a fake arrest, threatening the survival of her lifestyle and family. Unbeknown to her, Conrad and some of his friends go to Valley College and attack and severely beat the campus cop, who then (to Nancy's surprise) politely returns her marijuana to her, apologizing profusely and offering to assist her and her business in any way he can. She then has a mutual attraction with Peter Scottson, the single father of the kid bitten by Shane in a karate tournament. The season closes with Conrad convincing Nancy to expand by becoming a grower as well as a dealer. However, implementing this plan hits complications in the last minutes of the season when, because of her mounting frustration and stress, she gives in and decides to sleep with Peter. Immediately afterward, she walks into his bathroom and finds out that he's apparently an agent with the federal DEA.
Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin
Elizabeth Perkins as Celia Hodes
Tonye Patano as Heylia James
Romany Malco as Conrad Shepard
Justin Kirk as Andy Botwin
Hunter Parrish as Silas Botwin
Alexander Gould as Shane Botwin
Kevin Nealon as Doug Wilson
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