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TV Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy, Drama
Cast
Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin; Hunter Parrish as Silas Botwin; Alexander Gould as Shane Botwin; Justin Kirk as Andy Botwin
Channel
Showtime
Reviewer
Paul Asay
Weeds

Some say the American family is going to pot. Nancy Baldwin might agree—taking the phrase more literally than most.

Back in 2005, Nancy was a standard-issue suburban wife with her bread-winning spouse, two kids and a nice California house in tow. But when her hubby inconsiderately dies, his parting gift is a sky-high mortgage on top of a mountain of other bills.

Given similar circumstances, some women might've radically revamped their lives by downsizing the house, selling a car and finding new—legal—ways to make ends meet. Nancy, in her desperation to cling to her posh lifestyle, opts to start a marijuana business—and not even a medicinal practice, mind you, but a covert operation, selling weed to her wealthy neighbors.

The results are predictable, even biblical: Nancy, in trying to "save" her current life, utterly loses it. In nearly a decade's worth of seasons, the California mom's gone from dealer to grower to drug-runner to fugitive, fleeing from both her crime-lord husband (a new one) and the long arm of the law, finally landing in Connecticut. And she's taking her long-suffering family (which includes oddball brother-in-law Andy) along for the ride.

"You can talk about the many ways I have failed you," she tells her sons as she throws all her most important possessions in her getaway minivan, "or we can play license plate bingo. I'll let you decide."

Weeds is a darkly funny comedy. Yet behind the laughs lurks an unfolding tragedy—the image of a family so ripped and torn that one can barely untangle its vestiges. Older son Silas struggles to find a semblance of normalcy in the midst of his mother's chaotic world: "I'm not going until everyone's buckled," Silas says, behind the wheel of the minivan. "Someone has to be a role model here." Yet he's also impregnated a girl to keep her from going to college and has gradually grown to accept and help with the new family business. Shane, Nancy's younger son, killed a woman with a croquet mallet at the end of Season 5, and now (in what may be a paradoxical act of rebellion) is training to be a police officer. Yeah, that should make Thanksgiving dinner interesting a few years down the road.

This reefer-infused satire on suburbia has turned into Leave It to Beaver meets Pulp Fiction—an incredibly foul, sexually charged, sometimes bloodily violent and often spiritually offensive comedy (it regularly skewers Christianity) in which the protagonists are now merely hoping to survive. In fact, Nancy begins Season 8 in a hospital bed, recovering from a gunshot wound to the head.

Nancy's always wishing things were better. That she was better. "We're not going to be like that anymore," she tells Silas in a recent episode (though she still, of course, plans to sell drugs). Rather, they're going to be like "the people in the weight loss ads," newly thin and pretty and smiling.

But viewers suspect that however much she longs for a normal life, it is not to be. Nancy's life would seem to have gone too crooked to ever be made straight again—not, at least, without confession, restitution and significant jail time. She's all out of joint, as it were, and no chiropractor on earth can straighten her out.

"Normal" is not the stuff of which Showtime series are made anyway. So Nancy's future is up in smoke.

Episode Reviews

"A Beam of Sunshine"

Nancy, while recovering from her gunshot wound, swears to be a kinder, nicer drug dealer. Thus, when she learns that a clown (a literal one, with makeup) is selling pricey pot to her cancer-stricken hospital mates, Nancy gives away marijuana cookies. The clown, believing she's part of a mafia family, backs off, and Nancy gives instructions on what he's to do when she checks out. "People in pain, they don't pay," she tells him. "They're your charity. Price of business."

We see the clown about to have sex with a hospital worker. (She drops her pants, revealing skimpy panties, while he unbuckles his trousers.) Silas talks to and paddles a tied-up female weed distributor wearing black lingerie. (She expresses pleasure over the slaps.) Andy and Jill have sex in a bathroom stall. (Jill's estranged husband discovers the unrepentant lovers.) Andy's erection is noted. Obscene gestures are made—sometimes with "props." Two women caper in skimpy bikinis.

A patient drinks peach schnapps. There are references made to the gory fates of Nancy's supposed mafia relatives. We hear the f-word 10 times, the s-word nearly that many times. Add to that "a‑‑," "b‑‑ch," "p‑‑‑" and "douche." God's name is misused.

"Felling and Swamping"

Nancy, her two boys and Andy prepare to live life "off the grid," trying to figure out who to be, where to go and how to pay for it. They max out their credit cards before tossing them (Andy buys four Hooters gift cards and one for Victoria's Secret) and get someone to make them fake IDs.

Meanwhile, Nancy tries to figure out the correct "motherly" response to the murder Shane committed. "I'm the mother!" she hollers at him in between slaps. "I decide who gets clubbed! I do the clubbing—not you!" She tells him that killing the woman was "dangerous and foolish and now we're all paying for it," but when he pushes her, she admits that she's glad the deed is done.

To "disappear," Nancy changes hairstyles to one Andy calls "fake and hookery." Silas and Shane get into a fight. Shane advises Andy against naming himself "Clive Steed," calling it a "total porn name." Five f-words and nearly 10 s-words are mixed in along with "a‑‑," "h‑‑‑" and "p‑‑‑."

"Thwack"

After Shane kills a lady with a mallet (her body falls into a pool, facedown), Nancy makes plans to flee the scene of the crime. She closes the pool cover and takes off, making a stop at Andy's house to "borrow" his minivan.

Once there, she discovers that his girlfriend, an abortion doctor, is being held captive by a crossbow-toting "wacko Christ-y man." Nancy and Andy rescue the woman, hitting her captor over the head and tying him up. But Andy's best girl is mad about him running away at first, so she breaks up with him on the spot. Andy then decides to go on the lam with Nancy. Later, the victim's body is discovered when a man opens the pool back up and jumps in (while wearing only brief-style underwear).

Nancy gets drunk, even though she's breastfeeding her baby. A nanny apparently steals a roll of cash. Somebody finds a penis ring. And the f-word surfaces at least a dozen times, the s-word just as often. Other profanity includes "b‑‑ch," "h‑‑‑," "d‑‑k," "d‑‑n" and abuses of Jesus' name.

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