Weeds: Season 7
When television was limited to only a meager handful of channels the networks had to compete by creating shows that would appeal to the greatest number of viewer possible. This required lead characters that were entirely likeable; noble in motivation and pure of heart. With the advent of cable and particularly the premium channels niche programming was born. The cable networks could get by with a smaller viewership by presenting series that were more cutting edge content that could never get past the Standards and Practices department of the broadcast networks. HBO was the trail blazer but soon all the upper tier channels had a lineup of mature themed programming. It seems that lately Showtime has become centered on deeply flawed protagonists. One time that is frequently applied to this archetype is the anti-hero. Instead of the law abiding citizen being the center of the story the focus is placed on a person that most would consider criminal, morally challenged or at least unlikable. Showtime has featured high priced call girls, drunken, over sexed writers and drug addicted nurses. In one case the lead character is a serial killer albeit he only targets really bad people. One of Showtime’s flagship series is ‘Weeds’ which followers the exploits of a suburban soccer mom that is a pot dealer. Over most of the seven seasons the show has been on the mom in question, Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) moved from small time dealer to a player in the drug cartel and eventually a fugitive on the run. One trend I’ve observed of late is many of the anti-heroes and being forced to face the consequences of their illegal activities. Dexter has explored religion, Nurse Jackie received an intervention and wound up on probation and Nancy Botwin was finally sent to prison. Of course, in none of these cases are the penalties received were not sufficient to deter them to make an enduring change in their illicit lifestyles. The reason for that is plain; the popularity of these shows is predicated on the other side of the law activities that has traditionally provided a vicarious thrill to the regular citizen. One thing is certain this type of plot device does present an opportunity for the writers and actors to explore deeper characteristics of the characters.
As season seven begins Nancy has just finished three years of her prison sentence. She is assigned to a strictly monitored half-way house in New York City. During the time of Nancy’s incarceration her sons Silas (Hunter Parrish) and Shane (Alexander Gould) have been living with their Uncle Andy (Justin Kirk) and family friend and bossiness partner Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon) in Copenhagen, a city more conducive to their predilection for herbal enjoyment. Each has found some way to earn enough money to get; Doug and Andy are tour guides, Silas is a model for some bottled water company and Shane has become a puppeteer working with his ex-girlfriend. One thing that appears as good news for Nancy is discovering the father of her youngest son, Stevie Ray Reye, has been stabbed to death. The boy has been living with Nancy’s sister Jill (Jennifer Jason Leigh) who is raising him as her own son telling him Nancy is his Aunt. In this season Jill wants to make the situation legal by adopting him.
You might think that with all the drama Nancy and her family has endured a rational person would try her best to stay clear of trouble but rational thought has never been one of Nancy’s strong points. In heart beat Nancy is making deals with Zoya (Olga Sosnovska), her former cell mate and lover. One thing about Nancy; she is a survivor and even if she has to alter her sexual inclinations if she feels it is advantageous. Zoya has connections with the Russian mob so Nancy received some protection in return for her jail house assignations. Old habits die hard so when Zoya sets Nancy up with a deal to market a car full of explosives for her brother Demitri, Nancy turns around to leverage it to get back in the pot business. This permitted the writers to bring back one of the original characters; Heylia James (Tonye Patano), Nancy’s first pot supplier from when she initially got into the drug racket. This is only the beginning of new misadventures for Nancy and her family. At one point she finds herself helping in s government sting by going on a date with as business acquaintance of Doug’s while wearing a wire. That is another key aspect of her personality; the only side that ever matters to here is her own.
Skipping ahead a few story years is becoming a poplar plot device with TV shows. Recently ‘Desperate Housewives’ became unstuck in time leaping over five years. And the enigmatical series ‘Lost’ bounced all over the timeline spanning centuries. It may seem on the surface to be a cheap trick to restore ratings and to some degree it is. On a deeper fundamental level this readjustment of the time line provides a rational explanation for a partial reboot of the story. In some respects the writers of ‘Weeds’ had written the characters into a corner. The constant need to up the ante each season finally caught up with them. The excesses threatened to crush the series under the weight of its own success. This chronological leap revitalized the series and allowed the actors to reinterpret their characters. One reason this ploy worked out as well as it did is a testimony to the brilliance of the writers and the formidable acting abilities of the cast both individually and as part of a well honed ensemble. She, you most likely would not want to be anywhere near any of the Botwin clan but they certainly make for fascinating television. this was a rebuilding year for the show but thanks to the excellence on both sides of the camera the show is phoenix like in its fiery rebirth.