When good TV turns bad: how Weeds made a right hash of things
By season three, the satire about a suburban LA mum and dealer had been through so many time jumps and location changes it had left its audience feeling dazed and confused
Given the recent legalisation of marijuana in California, and the popularity of programmes such as Breaking Bad and Narcos, the premise of Weeds seems antiquated. But when it started in 2005, the satire about a suburban Los Angeles mother who risked jail by dealing the green stuff after her husband’s early death felt revolutionary. Central to the show’s success was lead actor Mary-Louise Parker, who infused the frustrating, often selfish character of Nancy Botwin with such warmth and intelligence that you couldn’t help rooting for her, even as her motivation flipped from trying not to disrupt her children’s lives to doing anything for an adrenaline rush.
Weeds was at its best in the first three seasons, which poked fun at the claustrophobia and hypocrisy of suburbia, with theme song Little Boxes emphasising the stifling conformity. At first, Nancy’s dilemmas were relatable: from wondering whether to let her 15-year-old son Silas sleep with his girlfriend under her roof to persuading brother-in-law Andy to get a job.
There were some ridiculous storylines early on, to be sure: a chance meeting with Snoop Dogg; an actual dog biting off two of Andy’s toes; not to mention Nancy dating and secretly marrying someone who worked for the DEA (a fatal move on his part). But there was at least an attempt at verisimilitude, plus comic relief in the form of nosy neighbour Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins in a lifetime best performance).
Things went south at the end of season three, when Nancy locked horns with a new supplier and paid a local gang to protect her. They did: by setting a fire that burned down not only her nemesis’s crops but the entire neighborhood. The storylines became increasingly dark and cartoonish in the five seasons that followed.
Published: April 30, 2018
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News