joyless, antiseptic Weeds asks the musical question: is there enough
pot in the world to make anyone want to continue to live in the suburbs? The
premise, though original enough, feels ultimately all hashed out: newly
widowed soccer mom makes ends meet as a pot dealer.
becomes, in a strange twist of fate, the "suburban baroness of bud." Her
clients are the a-holes who populate the nearby corporate parks, and –
eventually – college students at the state university ("Have a nice day,
kids," she sarcastically tells her customers as she hands out the goodies.
"Party on. Remember to brush your teeth. Do your homework.").
choice of vocation becomes a magnet for life-threatening danger, offbeat
misadventures and sexual excitement.
Louise-Parker does a fine job of portraying a woman trying to keep it all
together and, as they once said back in the day, "trying to get over."
We're not exactly told
if she tokes herself (she claims at least once that she doesn't, and that
should be good enough for us), but she's surrounded by potheads, from her
business manager to her loose-cannon brother-in-law, all of them unbearable
jerks. We're asked to wonder why she can't find a nice guy and settle down
feel for her a little more deeply if we knew more about her past. The easy
sympathy trigger here is that she is a widow (her husband died while
jogging) and she and her boys continue to watch and miss him in family
videos, after his death. You can see that the husband represents the strong,
morally sound glue that once held them firmly together, now forever
dissolved as the family and the world become unglued and unhinged.
course, we have to wonder (though we certainly couldn't blame her) as to why
a nice, pretty, smart girl like her doesn't snag an office job in one of the
many surrounding corporate centers. We assume that instead she has a taste
for wanderlust despite the need to keep the mortgage current.
really find out how she came to deal pot, or how she made her connections
and built her business. This backstory seems to be already established as
the series begins. We are expected to root for her as she holds down the
fort and risks her own life and those of her children, but ultimately she is
completely shut down. She acts out in unexpected, un-maternal ways, like an
occasional sexual liason with a dangerous character or an emotional
freak-out at one of those long and senseless suburban red lights.
you type off an angry e-mail to Showtime, know that this mom deals only in
marijuana (nothing stronger), and her motto is "don't sell to kids." This is
meant to redeem her in our harshly judging eyes.
meant to be shocked as only Showtime can shock us, but once the smoke
clears, we realize that it's cool, man: it's nothing but a mellowed-out
Peyton Place by way of a baked Stepford Wives.
surburbs as a pretty hell and tender trap has been done to death by now, but
the new revelation here seems to be that a serene McMansion community is as
much an untamed jungle and requires as many survival skills as the shabby
row houses of the inner-city. We see this in everything from the children's
karate class to the inner-sanctum itself, which is always darkly lit and
claustrophobic despite its big closets and two-car garage. Even a rat – the
feared symbol of disorder – runs through it, eating through a stash of wacky
tobakky and getting the munchies.
every Ashley and Brittany and Justin for him or herself, with the Wilderness
Channel and violent video games as general instruction and allegory for
ironic message: this is no place to raise your children! Ultimately, though,
it's suburbs by the numbers (even her kids have mall names: Silas and Shane,
and the comic-relief maid is a Hispanic yentah).
every adult in this generation, the parents are children, and the children
themselves are on anti-depressants, diet soda and Ecstasy. Mom's dealer is
an unflappable black woman who verges on a borderline-obvious stereotype,
sitting in her urban kitchen, the queen on her throne, her children cowering
before her, and dispensing attitudinal head-nodders like, "you order enough
for a Snoop Dogg pool party!" We're asked to sense that the black people
here are more worldly, more real, than the delusional, materialistic,
insulated white suburbanites.
breakout character – whether we decide this or not -- is meant to be the
bigger-than-life desperate housewife next door (think Samantha from Sex
the City in a split level with two kids). Her redeeming qualities are zilch:
for example, she tortures her overweight daughter by replacing her
chocolates with chocolate laxatives so that the little girl can be
humiliated at school.
cable-series shock checklist is complete: she drinks, smokes, takes drugs
both prescribed and otherwise, has wild, unprotected sex with strangers, and
the writers have to afflict her with cancer to assure that she wins us over.
And she mouths off to Christian fundamentalist wives, who, of course, are
played as mindless fools, and very broadly.
theme song, which is a cover of the classic Pete Seeger blast of suburban
conformity, is called "Little Boxes." In this version, the female voice
sings that the houses and the people "are all made out of ticky tacky and
they all look just the same." She sings it with a high-pitched desperation,
a woman at the end of her rope, in dire need of a smokeout.
brings us to the ultimate point: the story doesn't seem to argue for
marijuana either way, pro or con. True, we ourselves see that pot is alive
and well despite the laws, as we watch these characters act out their own
version of defying prohibition. Mom's business is paying the bills all
right, but not making her rich. To warm our hearts and keep us relating, she
remains firmly upper-middle-class, but always on the verge of spiraling into
there seems to be no joy in their toking; no sense of the pleasures that are
associated with the pastime. In other words, no contact high.
high marks for Parker for her portrayal of mom as space cowgirl. Her charisma
alone shows us that a friend with weed is a friend indeed.
©2007 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved.
Posted: June 4, 2007.