Reevaluating “Weeds”

Astute analysis of Showtime’s Weeds, which just wrapped its sixth season.  It’s no longer a high concept comedy, but it has become a fascinating drama.

It may seem impossible, especially considering that the show hasn’t had an outright great season since its second, but Weeds’ sixth season is kind of a masterpiece. The show has regained both the sense of purpose and the sense of history that it seemed to leave behind in its fourth season, but I doubt that many people have been paying attention. Weeds has been written off, critically speaking, and even the internet seems largely quiet about what it is that Jenji Kohan has been doing all season. To be clear, this is not a case of reduced expectations or an escalating case of Stockholm Syndrome from continuing to watch through the past two years: Weedshas been one of the best shows on television this fall, regardless of critical inactivity.

The reason is actually quite simple. Originally, Weeds was about something. It wasn’t just about Nancy Botwin; it was about the bizarre circumstances she found herself in. She was a widow supporting her family by dealing marijuana, creating larger questions about parenthood and family, as well as how all of this melded with the monotony of suburbia (the “little boxes” from the show’s original theme song). And yet, once the show abandoned its original setting, it largely abandoned these themes. Nancy’s life was independent of her family, who got their own storylines that rarely intersected with her further involvement in the drug trade; Celia and Doug had no purpose once separated from Agrestic, making them tangential to the narrative we actually cared about. And even when Nancy got pregnant and married the baby’s father, corrupt Mexican politician Esteban Reyes, the result was actually less interesting in that the show stopped all other storylines dead in order to make it work. The show simply stopped adding up to anything, rendering even Shane murdering Esteban’s campaign manager with a croquet mallet at the end of the fifth season an anti-climax.

In season six, the writers (and the characters) realized that the show (and their lives) had lost a sense of purpose.

Not to ruin the ending, but if Nancy goes to jail, that would make a fascinating series of television as well.

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  • scott November 16, 2010, 11:56 am

    I couldn’t disagree more. The show is completely lost and has no sense of direction. Nothing ever seems in jeopardy, the characters never face real danger, though they are being followed by killers. Also, there is little redeeming about Nancy Botwin. She is selfish and has truly abandoned that mother lion quality that protected her children and made whatever mistakes she made acceptable to the viewer. I hate that I’ve wasted so much time on this show. I hope they find a satisfying way to end the series while there is still time.