Update: You can watch the Season Four premiere in edited fashion at Variety.
Over the past three weeks I’ve devoured the first three seasons of Showtime’s darkly funny Weeds. For those who watch the show and I’d assume love it dearly, please skip ahead and know that the shows returns tonight at 10 p.m. on Showtime for the start of Season Four. We’re all terribly excited around these parts.
Like the best television shows, Weeds works on a level beyond its mere premise. Sure, it’s “about” a suburban mother who sells pot, but it’s also “about” the gray area people will live in and justify to survive. It’s about trying to take the American Dream and keep it from slipping from your fingers.
Nancy Botwin is a single mother (twice widowed), who’s slowly moving up the drug food chain to provide a better life for her two children, Shane and Silas. Except that, you know, dealing drugs leads to all sorts of problems and rather than make her children’s lives better Nancy just about ruins them.
Played by Mary-Louise Parker with a dose of intelligence, survival instinct, recklessness, ingenuity and coquettish charm, Botwin finds herself in one pickle after another like inadvertently becoming the driver for a drive-by-shooting, becoming romantically involved with a Drug Enforcement Agent, and so on and so on.
She keeps it together by the friendship of Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon), her wacky CPA; her rivalry with frenemy Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins), perhaps the most loathsome character on the show but I root like hell for her to find redemption or at the very least stop being such a bitch; the irrepressible brother-in-law Andy Botwin (Justin Kirk), who has nothing but good intentions but fails miserably as a porn star, rabbi, Army recruit, Uncle, business partner, well pretty much everything he does except for sleeping with crazy women; and of course, Conrad, the best damn grower of marijuana and Botwin’s love interest.
The cast of characters on this show keeps things breezy and funny, but the darkness of the material and the constant valleys for all involved elevate the material to something more meaty than your average sitcom.
At the end of Season Three, Nancy’s little suburb box burned to the ground and forced her and her family to evacuate. The Botwin clan end up in the tiny seaside town of Ren Mar, home of her estranged father-in-law played by Albert Brooks.
“The general consensus among the writers was that we needed a little shot in the arm. It was time to make some changes so people could get excited again,” says Weeds executive producer Jenji Kohan. “It just feels great to be trying something new stuff and having new things to talk about.”
So what does season four have in store? Tough to say, but it sounds promising and you’ve got to credit the writers for constantly moving the show forward. There is nothing worse than watching the same plotlines over and over again. I can say for sure that whatever predicament Nancy finds herself in, she’ll figure out a way out but it will lead to an ever greater predicament and no doubt much more sadness in her life.
This season, the politically incorrect Botwin begins transporting larger quantities of illegal substances ? in a politically correct hybrid car ? across the Mexican border.
“Nancy has really existed in the gray area and has been able to rationalize everything,” Kohan says. “For the first time, she’s going to confront more issues about what she’s doing and seeing. She’s part of a much bigger organization, and she has to negotiate those waters.”
The border factors into a central socioeconomic and political plotline, both for the drug trade and illegal immigration, Kohan says. Kirk and Kevin Nealon, who stars as partying CPA Doug Wilson, begin their own illicit cross-border business venture as well. (Demi?n Bichir signs on for several episodes as Esteban Reyes, the wealthy mayor of Tijuana.)
Perkins’ Hodes, meanwhile, continues her slide from the icily prim town councilwoman with an unhappy marriage and spiteful family. Hodes’ husband, daughter and former lover despise her so much that they tell Drug Enforcement Agency officials that she, not Botwin, is the local pot queen. Without an alibi, Hodes lingers in jail, where she steadily loses what’s left of her dignity and haughty demeanor.