Weeds has always been on the periphery of a larger scale political debate. Sure, it's a show about a white woman in a suburban California city who sells weed to the upper middle class locals, but it always appeared to be a dramedy first. It wasn't until season two bridged into season three that I realized how much Weeds really reflected the culture at large.
To catch up, Weeds follows the widowed Nancy Botwin (Mary Louise Parker) as she sells marijuana here and there to make some cash to pay for the finer things in her suburban paradise. Stretched to the limit by the affluent lifestyle the now single mother wants to keep, Nancy ventures deeper into the world of dealing. Her African-American, working-class supplier, Heylia (Tonye Patano), pushes her around a little too much, forcing the assertive, ambitious Nancy to go out on her own. She, with her supplier's equally bullied nephew Conrad (Romany Malco), decides to go into business growing and selling herself. At the end of season two, Nancy has a few automatic weapons pointed at her head and realizes that the big bad world of drug dealing is bigger and badder than she ever thought.
Maybe I'm late to the show on this one, but it wasn't until watching the first three episodes of season three that I realized that Nancy represented the irrational, anti-social behavior that can follow a severe trauma. She is the tragic heroine of our post-9/11 America. After watching Weeds, you easily and begrudgingly realize how easy it was for America to go on a devastating, nonsensical warpath after the World Trade Center attacks (e.g. Iraq). Nancy too makes mistakes she wouldn't have made had she had her head on straight.
Mostly, though, we see the collateral damage of Nancy's mistakes. Her sons become just as unscrewed, one turning into a thief and vandal for the sake of his mother and the other becoming an outspoken, critical voice standing against the status quo. Nancy's growing partner Conrad becomes a slave to the man who once held a gun to both his and Nancy's heads. Her supplier Heylia can't supply. Her DEA agent husband, who she married to protect her business, is dead. Her accountant and her lawyer both lose their marriages.
Yes, season three does have darker elements to it, but it also maintains the sharp, perceptive humor that made the show worth watching in the first place. Most notable is the addition of Matthew Modine (episode four) as the developer of spiritually-based communities who hires Nancy so he can openly and aggressively flirt with her. Elizabeth Perkins, playing Nancy's bitchy, nosy neighbor, is as unlovable as ever, as well. The new combination humor and darker drama results in a show reminiscent of Six Feet Under.
Six Feet Under is an excellent, but imperfect comparison. That HBO show (still the greatest in the history of television) lost momentum after the first two seasons. Weeds, on the other hand, proves that it has the fuel to become something greater than I imagine even the show's creator Jenji Kohan thought it could be. If you don't have Showtime yet, there's no better reason to subscribe than to watch Weeds season three.
Weeds returns Monday, Aug. 13 at 1o p.m. followed by the new Showtime Original Califonication at 10:30 p.m.Powered by Sidelines