Starring Mary Louise Parker, Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins
Lionsgate Home Video
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Everyone gets all their panties in a bunch about how HBO is the end-all-be-all for cable, and now that Sex & The City made more bank than the Catholic Church last weekend, there’s gonna be no abatement. Don’t get me wrong, I like the shows just fine (and would kill for a Deadwood movie), but they seem, at times, to beat you over the head with how slick as shit they think they are. If David Chase pulled his pretentious stunt with the Sopranos finale at any other network, they wouldn’t have let it air, with everyone asking “How do you think it ended?” I don’t know, I’m not the writer. That’s HIS fucking job. HE was supposed to tell ME.
But the ballyhoo around Home Box Office cannot stand under one simple question…
Isn’t Showtime where all the cool kids are?
I mean think about it. They’re risky entertainment first and production marvels second. I find that with a pot dealing suburban mom, middle-aged lesbians, horny English royalty and Agent Mulder with his dick in a nun’s mouth, their only family friendly show is Dexter… And Dexter tortures and kills people.
I’m a fan of Showtime’s shows and I don’t even GET Showtime. I’m Netflixing all this shit. And the one I find most fascinating is Weeds. For the short pitch to you folks, think Desperate Housewives with a brain, soul, and a GOOD sense of humor.
For those of you who haven’t seen an episode yet, allow me to fill you in. Nancy Botwin’s (Mary Louise Parker’s) life was going just fine until her husband dropped dead of a heart attack, leaving her with two young sons and a lifestyle to maintain. So she decides to take a prudent and conservative tack to solve all these problems. She starts selling weed.
So Nancy this season, as she does every season, juggles friends and family with an increasingly dangerous career in the affluent Southern California community she has made her home. The wacky people in her orbit are played by a wonderful ensemble cast that includes Kevin Nealon, Elizabeth Perkins, Justin Kirk, Hunter Parrish and Romany Malco. And they even have a couple of guest stars this year, like Matthew Modine and the mummified corpse of a lemur…
Oh, I’m sorry, that’s Mary-Kate Olsen.
Anyway, for those of you who have had no prior exposure to the show and think my description makes it sound cute and giddy, like breaking your diet, you will be sorely disappointed. Weeds takes Nancy and her drug trade seriously, as she descends from attempts to be a loving and providing mother and starts becoming the suburban Scarface. In the first season she viewed dealing pot as a victimless crime, and she is becoming less and less concerned about that distinction as she starts making shady and dangerous deals to protect her empire.
That’s the genius of the show, to make comedy and deep moral strife almost inexplicable from one another. That’s also Parker’s genius, as she can send two completely different signals, like a TV stuck between channels, with just a twitch of a cheek or a raising of her eyebrows. Just her face tells us what reams and reams of dialogue couldn’t as the internal struggle of Nancy Botwin struggles to free itself. She’s the best actress on TV.
All the characters walk a divide, sometimes between right and wrong and sometimes between heelishness and likeability. Particularly a drug dealer named U-Turn that Nancy finds herself indentured to early in the season. He can give us a funny line and then shock us with cold brutality. But nowhere is this perilous tightrope more pronounced than the maddeningly complex character of Celia Dodes, played magnificently by Elizabeth Perkins. Celia takes to the Suburban Queen Bee role like Cheney took to the Vice-Presidency. Her loopiness and need almost make us forget prior backstabbing until she acquits herself with stunning ruthlessness in her search for prestige and money. It’s daring writing with an equally daring performance.
But I must come down from this and say that this is the weakest season of Weeds, because there’s an ever pervading sense of political and social self-righteousness. Fundamentalist Christians are fed through the woodchipper, as is the military. Even the Gangsta Thugs drive Priuses and we even have a young woman (Olsen) who’s a Jesus Freak and won’t have sex before marriage, but loves weed and doesn’t mind selling it. She’s even given a monologue about how pot is a spiritual thing and not the weapon that we as a species NEED to rid the world of all those pesky Twinkies and Cheetos.
Oh, and when Kevin Nealon actually reached through the screen and handed me a Ron Paul flier? NOT COOL!
Even the packaging of the actual show has gotten pretentious as the back tells us it is made of 100% recyclable material. Look, I’m all in favor of the environment and going green and all that limp-wristed crap, but who is that honestly going to impress? Someone who’s environmentally conscious but has never seen this show? Someone who was a fan and going to buy it anyway, even if the packaging was made out of baby-seal hide? Me, I just put the discs in a CD case and threw the fucking package in the trash. Because I’m an asshole when cardboard acts all smug.
But nevertheless, both this show’s kung-fu and my recommendation are still strong.
DVD Bonus Features
-FEATURES ‘N’ SHIT-
Yeah, we have soundtrack features, commentaries, a gag reel, trivia tracks and all the standard issue stuff for this kind of TV deal, but three features really stand out…
GOOD MORNING AGRESTIC– This is a kind of parody of those inept Cable Access morning shows that all small towns have, starring two supporting characters in the show. They are awkwardly, almost painfully hilarious.
UNCLE AWOL-This is a mockumentary featurette starring Justin Kirk and his three lovely assistants, as he talks about his character of Nancy’s irresponsible, drugged-out womanizing brother-in-law Andy. Kirk raises playing someone full of shit to an almost magical art form. Fuckin’ gutbusting.
MARY-KATE OLSEN BIO– Why is this on here? We know how Mary-Kate Olsen got her start and how much money she has, so why is this on here? I as an adult, don’t care… And don’t get me wrong, she’s good on the show and she has potential, but why is she playing someone who smokes copious amounts of dope? That’s supposed to give you the munchies, and that girl is so skinny I can see what she’s thinkin