Dangerous Weeds.

by Meredith O'Brien


What started out as a dark comedy dramatizing a desperate, widowed soccer mom’s attempts to provide for her children and keep them in their cushy, California home by selling pot to fellow suburbanites, has, over the course of five seasons, devolved so far into the dangerous world of drugs and human trafficking that dealing a bag of weed at a 10-year-old’s soccer game now seems like innocent child’s play.


I’m very much a late-comer to Showtime’s critically acclaimed show Weeds, starring the Golden Globe winning Mary-Louise Parker as the drug-dealing Nancy Botwin who, in a recent episode, gave birth to a Mexican drug lord’s baby. (The father also happens to be Tijuana’s mayor, the same dude who previously raped Nancy, threatened to kill her after she talked to the feds and proposed marriage to her soon before she gave birth to his son). With all the buzz I’d seen about the smart, sassy and sexy suburban mom pot dealer having a baby, I decided I should have my own, personal Weeds-a-thon.


Here’s what I discerned after spending several days soaking up four-and-a-half seasons of Weeds: When the series began, Nancy’s husband Judah had recently dropped dead of a heart attack while out jogging with their 10-year-old son Shane. (They also had a 15-year-old son Silas.) Nancy had been an at-home mom living in a beautiful home -- cherry cabinets, granite countertops in the kitchen, a pool in the backyard – and busying herself by serving as the chairwoman of the PTA’s Healthy Children Committee, ironically, trying to rid the schools of the scourge that is soft drinks. Instead of doing what most folks would do after unexpectedly losing one’s spouse in mid-life, like finding a regular job to make ends meet or consider selling the house for something more affordable, Nancy turned to a life of crime for a reason that was never fully explained to my satisfaction.


Early on, Nancy would protest that she wasn’t really a drug peddler, saying things like, “I’m not a dealer, I’m a mother who happens to distribute illegal products through a sham- bakery.” (A bakery was a short-lived front for her drug operation during the time when she was making marijuana-infused baked goods. She also had another front job in season four when she ran a maternity-wear shop which had a tunnel that went to Mexico in the back through which drugs and people were illegally trafficked.)



I am a big fan of Weeds, but I too went through an evolution of feelings toward Nancy. Where I once sympathized with her small-time suburban weed business as widow's way to make ends meet, she is clearly a horrible mother for putting her sons at risk of being orphaned by her drug dealing with the Mexican Cartel. They are not nice or sexy men. She's behaving like a crack whore. That said, I understand she is a thrill-seeker and that this is fiction, which should not be deconstructed like a literary novel. It's entertainment, not real-life, or even one of those dreaded semi-real life reality shows.


Meredith, I totally see your point that the initial premise of the show appears to take a dive (or jump the shark), but I continue to love this show. I don't have cable and have watched the first 4 seasons via Netflix and I am DYING to watch season five.

Here's what I think about Weeds - as mothers, we all try to identify with Nancy Botwin and as she makes progressively disastrous decisions we sort of snap out of the fantasy and think, "what...the...HELL?" My advice is to stop even trying to identify with her - once I did that, I could sit back and enjoy the craziness. I think the show is absolutely hysterical and much easier to watch now that I don't cling to the hope of redemption for Nancy.


I used to love Weeds for its mildly scandalous premise, the brilliant character development and acting, and the music. After Six Feet Under finished its run, I needed a new show to fill the void. But, it was the season when Nancy pole dances (with a Starbucks in one hand, I seem to remember) for some Mexican-American drug dealers that she has just met and is still able to get her white, yoga-toned ass out of the building unmolested that I lost faith. I think that was also the season her husband/undercover DEA agent was killed and she showed no remorse for her role in it that I found the plot and Nancy's characterization just so unbelievably weak that I couldn't justify spending the time watching. It was like going from prescription-grade bud to the dirt weed I smoked in junior high. Very disappointing and a little depressing. After reading your update that Nancy gave birth to a child fathered by a south-of-the-border drug lord (what would Judah say?), I'm glad I quit when I did. The United States of Tara is my new favorite; if you haven't seen it yet, you can find the first season on Showtime on Demand.